India restricts cellphone users to 100 texts per day

In a move that will strike terror into the hearts of teenagers everywhere, India’s telecoms regulator has today introduced a cap on the number of text messages that can be sent from a mobile phone.

Users will now be restricted to sending no more than 100 texts per SIM card per day for prepaid cards, or 3,000 per month for post-paid connections.

The move is aimed at curbing the activities of telemarketers, who bombard Indian users with unsolicited messages. Previous attempts to stop them, such as the introduction of a ‘do not call’ list, have had little effect.

The move has been unpopular with many businesses which use SMSs to communicate with staff, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has made a few concessions.

Dealers of telecoms service providers will be allowed to exceed the limit, as will e-ticketing agencies, directory services and social networks.

But telemarketers will be required to register with TRAI before they can send out any commercial messages at all and are barred from senging messages between 9.00pm and 9.00am. Their numbers all begin with ‘140’, making them easy to identify.

SMS spam is a big problem in Asia – in some countries in the region as many as a third of text messages consist of spam. Two years ago, China took similar measures to India.

However, it was rather less restrictive, limiting messages to 200 an hour or 1,000 per weekday – enough, one hopes for even the most garrulous teenager.

Already, Indian students are swapping methods for getting around the ben – the most obvious, of course, being to have more than one SIM card.

An alternative is to use a service such as SMSGupsup, an SMS-based social networking service which allows users to send group messages without any charge.