When you get a SMS these days, in most likelihood it will be something like the one I got today morning which said “Best Buy for Property in Pune: Laburnam Park. Pls Call 26****00“. As much as I want to build an empire in Pune, such messages annoy me to the core. Spam messaging have almost become a part and parcel of our daily lives. With over 150 million marketing SMSes being sent each day, no one is spared. The problem is compounded with service providers giving spammers a great rate of 3 paise per message with some promising to drop the rates even further. Bulk SMS business in India rakes in an estimated INR 20 crores every month giving providers all the more reason to make bulk SMS rates better. However, Bharti Airtel have gone the other way by dropping out of the bulk SMS business.
Airtel is making this move after putting the customer above anything else. According to the CEO, Sanjay Kapoor, Bharti Airtel would like to take leadership in the effort to avoid this big menace of annoying calls and SMSes. Mr. Kapoor believes that TRAI can help towards this by keeping a mandatory price of 5-10 paise per SMS in order deter companies from spamming customers. Customers who subscribe to the Do Not Call Registry (DNCR) at times end up getting such calls and SMSes and according to Mr. Khanna a heavy fine should be imposed on such companies. In the US, such calls are penalized with a fine of $11,000 per call with the fines increasing for subsequent violations.
Will other service providers follow suit?
Bharti Airtel have taken a bold step keeping the customer in mind. However, considering the high revenue in the business, it seems unlikely that other service providers will take the high road. Unless regulators take a firm step towards this issue, customers will continue to suffer.
by Ashish Sadanandan