New SMS Regulations to Send SMS in India

Profile Headshot of Mehak Dhingra
Mehak Dhingra

mins read

May 16, 2024

New SMS Regulations to Send SMS in India

Key Takeaways

  1. New SMS regulations were needed to combat spam, unsolicited texts, phishing attempts, AIT and other SMS based cybercrimes
  2. The old and new regulations differ on multiple parameters like header and template, message categories, customer consent, preference flexibility etc.
  3. DLT is at the core of new regulations. It enhances security, confedentiality and traceability in SMS messages being sent
  4. New SMS regulations have multiple benefits for senders like reduced spam, clear sender identification, personalized message control etc.
  5. Innovation in SMS based solutions, transparency and accountability with personalized experience are some elements of the future of SMS in India

The Indian telecommunications landscape has witnessed a significant transformation in recent years, particularly in the realm of bulk SMS services. Amidst the growing concerns over unsolicited and fraudulent text messages, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has introduced a comprehensive set of regulations aimed at safeguarding consumer interests and promoting ethical practices within the bulk SMS industry.

What is the Need for New Regulations?

  1. Despite the availability of Do Not Disturb (DND) activation options and the implementation of measures to combat spam, the issue of receiving unsolicited and unwanted SMS messages has continued to plague Indian consumers.  
  2. Customers have remained victims of unsolicited texts, unwanted SMS, and phishing attempts, even after activating DND services.
  3. Cybercrimes in the form of SMS phishing, intercepting OTP SMS messages, AIT etc. have also increased. The complaints on NCRP rose by 61% in 2023.  

Difference Between Old and New SMS Regulations

Infographic Showing Differences Between Old and New SMS Regulations by Message Central.

The Role of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

At the core of the new TRAI regulations is the implementation of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), commonly known as blockchain.  
This innovative technology serves as the foundation for managing the entire bulk SMS ecosystem, ensuring a secure and transparent platform for all stakeholders.

Under the revised guidelines, every individual or business entity, including telemarketers, must complete their DLT registration. This interconnected framework, there is linkage among all five entities, which are:-

  1. Individual/Business,
  2. Telemarketer,  
  3. Telecom Operator,  
  4. TRAI, and  
  5. Consumers

It enhances security, confidentiality, and traceability within the SMS communication network.

Benefits of New TRAI Regulations to Consumers

The implementation of the new TRAI regulations has brought about several benefits for consumers, including:

  1. Reduced Spam: The stringent guidelines and real-time filtering mechanisms have significantly reduced the incidence of unsolicited and unwanted SMS messages. This provides a better SMS communication strategy.
  2. Clear Sender Identification: With the mandatory registration of headers and templates, consumers can now easily identify the source of the SMS they receive, enhancing trust and transparency.
  3. Personalized Message Control: Customers now have the ability to control the messages they receive, including the option to specify time frames and opt-in/opt-out preferences.
  4. Enhanced Security: The adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) has strengthened the overall security of the SMS communication network, deterring fraudulent activities and protecting consumer data.
    Some service providers like Message Central also enable uses cases like OTP SMS without the need for DLT registration. As a business you can leverage the service to ensure a smooth user onboarding experience.  
  5. Efficient Complaint Resolution: The streamlined complaint management system ensures that customer grievances are addressed promptly, with strict penalties imposed on violators.

The Future of Bulk SMS in India

With the implementation of the new TRAI regulations, coupled with the adoption of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), there are a few key emerging trends: -

  1. Increased Transparency and Accountability: The DLT-based framework will continue to enhance transparency and accountability within the bulk SMS ecosystem or mass texting, deterring fraudulent activities and instilling greater trust among consumers.
  2. Personalized Customer Experience: Consumers will experience a more personalized and controlled communication environment, with the ability to tailor their preferences and receive messages that align with their needs and preferences.
  3. Improved Compliance and Regulatory Oversight: The stringent regulations and real-time monitoring mechanisms will drive businesses to maintain strict compliance, ensuring a more ethical and regulated bulk SMS industry even for SMS API based providers.
  4. Innovation in SMS-based Solutions: The new regulatory landscape may spur innovation, as businesses explore creative ways to leverage SMS-based communication within the confines of the updated guidelines, catering to the evolving needs of consumers and enterprises.
  5. Collaboration and Interoperability: The increased interoperability between telecom service providers will foster collaboration and streamlined operations within the bulk SMS industry, leading to more efficient and reliable services.

As the Indian telecommunications landscape continues to evolve, the new TRAI regulations and the integration of Distributed Ledger Technology have set the stage for a more secure, transparent, and consumer-centric bulk SMS ecosystem. By embracing these changes and adapting their practices accordingly, businesses can thrive in this new era of SMS communication, while ensuring the protection of consumer interests.

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