To stop the menace of pesky messages, telecom regulator Trai on Monday said only 100 SMSes in a day per SIM card will be allowed at concessional rates.
For every SMS beyond the cap of 100 SMSes, a charge of minimum 50 paise will be applicable, the regulator said.
Subscribers have been facing the menace of receiving unsolicited promotional SMSes from unregistered tele-marketers who often take the advantage of concessional SMS offers by telecom operators.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had last week said he too was a victim of the unsolicited communications. "Every two minutes I get such SMS," he had said. Trai is taking up the issue of pesky calls and SMSes, he had added.
"To prevent unregistered telemarketers from misusing such SMS packs or tariff plans for sending bulk promotional SMS, a price restraint has been placed on sending of more than 100 SMSes per day per SIM at a concessional rate," Trai principal advisor (CA & IR) N Parameswaran told reporters in New Delhi.
While the subscriber is free to send SMSes beyond this number, all such SMSes sent beyond 100 SMS per day per SIM shall be charged at a tariff of minimum 50 paise, he added.
"The changes effected by the regulations and the order have to be implemented within fifteen days," he said, adding that these measures are initial steps and more will follow.
Operators have also been asked to put in place a solution within three months, which will ensure that no commercial SMS are sent having same or similar characters from any source number.
"The solution will ensure that not more than 200 SMS with such similar 'signature' are sent in an hour," he said.
However, registered telemarketers, transactional message sending entities and telephone numbers exempted by Trai are excluded from this provision, Parameswaran added.
Subscribers can also lodge complaints against unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) through SMS.
"The complaint can be lodged through SMS by simply forwarding the UCC SMS to 1909 after appending the telephone number and date of receipt of the SMS," Parameswaran said.
Telecom operators will also establish a web-based complaint registering system and a dedicated e-mail address to receive complaints on UCC.
For increasing consumer awareness and to caution against misuse, operators have also been mandated to send SMS to all customers on periodic basis, advising them not to send any commercial communications and informing them about the consequences of misuse.
Also, when a new customer signs up for service, the company is required to take an undertaking in the Customer Acquisition Form that the connection will not be used for telemarketing purpose.
In case the connection is found to be used for telemarketing purposes, such connection shall be liable to be disconnected, Parameswaran added.
In order to put curbs on such communications, Trai had issued 'The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010', which came into force from September 27, 2011.
The regulation says that if a UCC originates from a subscriber who is not registered with the regulator as a telemarketer, the service provider should issue a disconnection notice to the subscriber. On second offence, the service would be disconnected.
In case of violation of regulation by registered telemarketers, Trai had recommended penalty ranging between Rs 25,000 to Rs 250,000 for a violation.