Growing concern over TRAI's 100 SMS limit

Sep 30, 2011, 06:45 IST | Johnlee Abraham

State's e-Governance department runs SMS-related services, including information on disaster management; MET department sends agri-related advice to farmers through same mode. The limitation is giving such agencies, among others, something to think about
Youngsters addicted to SMS chats as a means of communication might not be the only ones wringing their hands in discomfort and ruing Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) latest decision to limit SMS sending to 100 per day. The rule has sent government agencies in a tizzy and the gravity of the situation is slowly dawning.

Representation pic

More interestingly, the limitation appears to be giving security agencies and law enforcement agencies, among others, something to think about.

The state's e-Governance department runs several SMS-related services such as disaster management services and even agri-related advice through SMSs to farmers.
As per the information from the IT/BT, over 2 lakh people in the state benefit from the SMS services of the e-Governance department.

"Several of our SMS-based services related to disaster management and even services for farmers have been severely affected.

We have approached TRAI and requested to b exempted from this limitation. We are hopeful a direction will be given in our favour soon," said M N Vidya Shankar, principal secretary, e-Governance Department.

Gloomy weather
The Meteorological Department (MET) claims that they have not been able to send out crucial information to farmers in the state and private companies assert that they have lost the personal connect with employees as a result of the decision.

"I had subscribed for regular traffic updates about six months ago since it helped me plan my day. The updates from the traffic police department kept informed about roadblocks, diversions, closed roads and even potholes.
For the past three days I haven't been getting updates and this is causing problems as I've been reaching office late," said S Srivastav, a content executive. Many college students who opted for this SMS service have also found reason to complain.

"We opted for this service as we lose our attendance even if we are late for a class by five minutes. We hope they resume services soon since we are quite dependent on it," said T Nitesh, a student.
As per the TRAI guidelines that came into effect from September 27, the number of SMSs that can be sent in a day was set at 100. Many state government agencies are now confused, as there is still no clarity on the matter.

Bad weather
The state MET sends daily weather updates to around 5 lakh farmers in the state through SMS and the service is currently unavailable.

"There is much confusion about the issue since there is no clear direction on how such information dissemination services should operate. We have now approached the government for some clarity," said B Puttanna, director, Karnataka Meteorological Department.

The department is also irked that such policies are implemented without a ground-check on its effect. "Weather update is quite an important service that the farmers depend upon. We will have to find a way around this issue," added Puttanna.

With nowhere to turn, political parties in the state are also facing the brunt of the new guideline, which many say is a violation of constitutional rights.

"Instead of curbing only telemarketing companies, they have passed a blanket rule that will affect all quarters of society. It is nothing but draconian rule," said S Prakash, spokesperson, BJP.

Political parties are feeling the discomfort, as they find it difficult to reach out to their officials around the state.

Politicos irked
"We send out around 1,000 SMS updates on party programmes and events on a daily basis. Now, we feel severely handicapped. We are going to take this matter up, as it is unjustified," added Prakash.

While many are relieved that the 100 SMS per day might keep telemarketers away, on the down side, others will have to figure out alternate ways of sending out messages.
"While the rule will certainly keep marketing spammers away, others may have to opt for other means or even usefree websites offering SMS services," said R Murali, PR associate director.

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