SMS Dying: TRAI, Telcos or Messaging Apps – Whom to be Blamed for?

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Short Messaging Service (SMS) will be dead in next 3-5  years, I believe. SMS is getting prominent threat from messaging services which works via data network like  WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Nimbuzz and others for last 1-2 years, but with recent regulation regarding  SMS termination charges from TRAI is also pushing SMS to be dead in coming days.

SMS in India

With the growth of messaging over IP networks those are using smartphones seldom send a text message. For them WhatsApp or other messaging services are just awesome.

SMS termination charges are the charges, which are payable by originating Access provider to the terminating Access provider for each SMS, terminated by it on the network of terminating Access provider.

The SMS hit a roadblock in November last year when the incumbent mobile operators restrict incoming SMS from some operators (Airtel-Rcom, Airtel-Aircel, Vodafone-Tata Docomo) quoting the reason that as these newer operators sells bulk SMS at lower price there are huge number of incoming SMS from their network causing spam and overload of the system.

To make it worst A-Vo-Id group wanted to make the SMS termination charge 10paisa per SMS. However TDSAT said it will be 5paisa per SMS. Following that most operators have revised their SMS packs and offering only bundled SMS to own network and at a flat rate to others' network.

Country's telecom watchdog TRAI has prescribed termination charge of 2paisa on normal SMS and 5paisa on transactional SMS in a press release dated May 24th, 2013. On the statement TRAI mentioned that they know that SMS costs less than 1 paisa each, but some of the large telecom service providers pushed the fact that low termination charge may hamper the spam and pesky SMS restriction procedure. TRAI's new regulation is going to be effective from June 1st, 2013.

Though there is chance that operators may again revise their SMS packs, I seriously doubt how many customers will be sold with the upcoming revisions. For many people WhatsApp or WeChat are better options than conventional SMS. They are free, works over 2G data connection, requires few bytes, and no chance of delivery failure. Facebook Messenger, Nimbuzz, LINE, Skype, Viber, Google HangOut are other messaging platforms popular in India. There has been already war in this field, which will be discussed in another post.

So SMS is going to be dead, but whom do you is main culprit? The large operators have to blame, as they become greedy to gain more money from newer operators via SMS termination charges. TRAI had to follow the suit. But customer wins here too, with more options in the market.

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