Mobile users fret & fume over SMS curbs

Priya Sheth & S. Ronendra Singh
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Instant messaging platforms see surge in usage

Vidya Kapur, a student at Delhi University, wanted to alert her friends about a relative who needed blood urgently. But after sending five messages, her operator informed that she cannot send any more SMSes for the day. Vidya, who had taken an unlimited SMS pack, was forced to spend money on making emergency calls to her friends.

The 15-day ban imposed on bulk SMSes by the Government is giving mobile users like Vidya a tough time. The ban was imposed on Friday to prevent the spread of rumours that triggered an exodus of people from North-East from various cities. While the exodus continued on Saturday, the SMS ban has been hurting general consumers as well.

“This is uncalled for and it’s a case of shooting the messenger,” said Subho Ray, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India. “Such a ban will serve no purpose.”

The ban is affecting messaging firms that use the platform for telemarketing.

“It is very unfortunate that bulk SMSes have been banned. Eighty per cent of most vendors’ business is promotional. The ban will result in 30-40 per cent revenue loss for us,” said Ashwin Roy Choudhary, Founder of messaging services company Bombil Media.

Wrong time

“This ban has come at a wrong time. Not only is it the holiday, festival season but also the sale season. We were expecting to send out about 10 lakh SMSes a day. Now hotels/shops will not be able to send their customers any messages to update them about offers,” said Choudhary.   

But loss in SMS revenues is gain for instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp which is seeing a surge in usage. “Instant messaging has been growing by the day. We have about 100 million users on the Nimbuzz platform globally and about 18 million users in India,” said Joby Babu, Head-Operations, Nimbuzz.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 20, 2012)
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