Tuesday, 27 September 2011

TRAI September 27 2011 Regulations regarding unsolicited SMSes Explained

Written by Anil Singh

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Tuesday 27 Spetember 2011 implemented its new guidelines, called the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, regarding unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) reaching the mobile subscribers in India.

Why the new regulations:

A new set of guidelines became necessary due to the limited success of TRAI's earlier initiatives. The National Do Not Call Registry was somewhat effective in reducing the number of unsolicited calls but indirectly led to an increase in the number of unsolicited SMSs landing in consumers' inboxes.

Under the new guidelines, any person/business in India will be able to send a maximum of 100 SMSes a day (100 SMSs per SIM per day and not more than 3000 SMSs per post-paid number), unless it has a commercial license. Even those having a commercial license will be able to send SMSes to a mobile subscriber in India, when the mobile subscriber approves receiving them. But TRAI has said that it will exempt certain categories of SMSs from the limit, that could include festivals and other celebratory occasions.

What will be the impact of the regulations released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC) on you:

From now on, SMSes will be categorized as: Transactional and Non Transactional (with restrictions of different degrees been put on the two categories).

From today, 27 September 2011, Organizations/businesses will be able to send SMS only to those customers who have not registered their mobile numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC).

Those whose mobile numbers are already registered at NDNC, will not be getting any SMSes and voice calls from any organization/business.

But, keeping in view that many mobile users, who at the same time are consumers of goods and services as well, may be willing to receive SMSes from particular goods/service providers, a mobile subscriber has been given the option to selectively enable/disable NDNC preferences for 7 industry categories.

The Two Options:

As a mobile user and a consumer, you have been given two choices, either to completely bar all unsolicited SMSes from any business OR to bar them partially. The two choices are explained in detail below:

1. Fully blocked: If the consumer chooses to register under under Fully Blocked option, then he/she will not receive any commercial communication on their phones either as voice calls or SMSs.

2. Partially blocked: If this option is chosen, then the Consumer will NOT receive any voice calls, but can partially allow to receive SMSs on any or some or all of the seven pre-defined subjects, namely:

a. Banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards
b. Real estate
c. Education
d. Health
e. Consumer goods and automobiles
f. Communication/broadcasting/entertainment/IT
g. Tourism and leisure

NOTE: Commercial communications, other than transactional messages (an example of transactional message is -- you used your ATM and your bank sends you an SMS alert that an amount has been withdrawn from your account via ATM) can only be sent to a consumer between 9 AM and 9 PM.

How to use the new TRAI regulations on your mobile:

As already shared above, Mobile Users already registered with the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) do not have to re-register. Their current NDNC registration will automatically continue under the 'fully blocked' category.

Those who have not yet registered their mobile numbers at NDNC, will get the 'Fully Blocked' status, once they register their number at NDNC.

Those mobile users who want to opt for 'partially Blocked' option, will have to take a few additional steps. The steps are being explained now.

How to enable 'Partially Blocked' status on your mobile:

To make use of ‘Partially Blocked’ option, a mobile subscriber will have to get his number registered at National Customer Preference Register (NCPR). The request for registration on the National Customer Preference Register (NCPR) will be effective in seven days from the date of request for registration. There are no charges involved in the registration, re-registration or change in registration process.

How to register:

There are four ways to activate your choice:

1. Via SMS sent to 1909
2. Dial 1909 and register through IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System)
3. Dial 1909 and register with the help of a customer care executive
4. Through the websites of mobile service providers

Registration via SMS

To opt for the fully blocked category, send SMS "START 0" to 1909.

To opt for the partially blocked category, send SMS "Start [option]" to 1909. The options are explained:

- "START 1" for receiving SMS relating to banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards
- "START 2" for receiving SMS relating to real estate
- "START 3" for receiving SMS relating to education
- "START 4" for receiving SMS relating to health
- "START 5" for receiving SMS relating to consumer goods and automobiles
- "START 6" for receiving SMS relating to communication/broadcasting/entertainment/IT
- "START 7" for receiving SMS relating to tourism and leisure

To opt for multiple preferences from the categories send SMS "Start [option1, option2, option3,...]" to 1909. For example, for receiving commercial SMSs from banking/insurance/financial products/credit cards and real estate, send the SMS as "START 1, 2".

NOTE: In case a preference "0" is mentioned in the SMS, it will override other preferences and will be treated as 'fully blocked.' For example, "START 0,1,7", will be considered as a fully blocked option.

NOTE: On sending the SMS, a user will receive a confirmation SMS and need to reply to the message to ensure the options chosen are implemented. On receiving the confirmation SMS from the subscriber, the service provider will send another SMS indicating the user's preferences along with a unique registration number. It is advisable to save the unique registration number as this will serve as a reference for the subscriber's registration of preference.

Registration via IVRS

Consumers can call the toll-free number 1909 and then follow the instructions to indicate their choice of blocked voice calls and SMSs. On successful competition of the IVRS process the consumer will receive a confirmation SMS that also mentions the consumer's unique registration number.

Registration through customer care executive

Consumers can call the toll-free number 1909 and speak to a customer care executive to indicate their preferences. The consumer will receive a confirmation SMS along with their unique registration number.

Registration via service provider websites

Users can also log in to their respective mobile service  provider's website to register their preferences.

How to change preferences:

A mobile user will be able to make changes to his partially blocked preferences after seven days of the date of registration or seven days after the last change of request. Like the registration, the preference change can be done through any of the four methods -- SMS, IVRS, customer care executive or online.

For changing preferences through SMS consumers will have to SMS "START [option]" to 1909 to receive communication on a certain category.

or SMS "STOP [option]" to stop receiving messages from the indicated category.

In case a consumer wants to fully block all categories, then he/she simply has to SMS "START 0" to 1909.

The user can also make change to his/her preferences via IVRS or via customer care executive by dialing 1909 or by visiting his/her mobile service provider’s website. On successful completion a confirmation SMS will be sent.

How to de-register from Partial Blocking

A mobile subscriber can opt out of the service by sending SMS "STOP" to 1909. Alternatively, he/she can also call 1909 to de-register through IVRS or by speaking to the customer care executive.

Complaint registration:

In case, a mobile subscriber keeps receiving unsolicited commercial communication even after seven days of registering with the NCPR they can file a complaint either by SMS or dialing 1909.

To register a complaint via SMS, the mobile user has to send an SMS having format "COMP TEL NO XXXXXXXXXX, dd/mm/yy, Time hh:mm" to 1909. Here "XXXXXXXXXX" is the telephone number or the ID from which the SMS was sent from and also mentioning the date and time when the unsolicited communication was received.

On successful submission of the complaint the user will be sent a unique complaint number through SMS and will be informed of the action taken on the complaint within seven days of the complaint booking.

To identify the source and type of a commercial text message, a mobile user should follow the following:

For sending the promotional messages, the telemarketers shall use alphanumeric identifier in the format XY-RNNNNN where X stands for code allotted to Access provider, Y stands for service area, as specified by TRAI from time to time and R being any digit from 0 to 7, where 0 indicates that the SMS is commercial communication but does not belong to any preference specified, 1-7 indicates the preference specified by TRAI (1. Banking/Insurance/Financial products/credit cards, 2. Real Estate, 3. Education, 4. Health, 5. Consumer goods and automobiles, 6. Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT and 7. Tourism and leisure); and NNNNN indicates five digit unique identification code allotted to telemarketer by the access provider.

Also messages from a telemarketer shall be from the number series '140'.

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