Trai Removes Clause Requiring Telcos to Charge Min 50 Paise for SMSes Beyond 100 Per Day

Regulator Trai on Wednesday removed a specific provision that required telecom operators to charge at least 50 paise per SMS for text messages exceeding 100 on a single connection per day, taking into account the interest of “genuine non-commercial bulk users”.

This means operators will have a free hand in fixing charges for such bulk SMSes by non-commercial users, and Trai’s practice of forbearance will extend to such messages too, an official explained.

The amendment, removing a specific provision in the telecom tariff order, came after an elaborate consultation process, that saw the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) organising its first-ever ‘Open House Discussion’ (OHD) entirely through the videoconferencing mode to seek stakeholders’ response after a round of comments and counter-comments.

“Schedule XIII of the Telecommunication Tariff Order 1999 made it obligatory for telecom service providers to charge a minimum of 50 paise per SMS for every SMS exceeding 100 SMSes per SIM per day. The deletion of Schedule XIII thus implies another step of Trai in doing away of the tariff regulation and strengthening the regime of tariff forbearance,” the sectoral watchdog said in a statement.

The specific provision for higher charges over and above a certain threshold for daily SMSes had been introduced in the Telecom Tariff Order in 2012 and was meant to serve as an additional safeguard to curb the menance of Unsolicited Commercial Communications or pesky telemarketing calls.

In 2018, a new stronger technology driven framework was prescribed by Trai for dealing with pesky calls.

“Considering the comprehensiveness of TCCCPR 2018 (Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations) 2018 in dealing with the menace Unsolicited Commercial Communications, it was felt that tariff regulation which has the potential of adversely affecting the interests of genuine non-commercial bulk users of SMS is no longer required and therefore can be removed,” Trai said.