September 28th, 2011
05:36 AM GMT
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New Delhi (CNN) - Every morning for almost four years I have been serenaded by the sounds of annoying beeps emanating from my phone. Once started, it continued sporadically through the day and increased as it got dark. Of course you are probably familiar with the sound I’m referring to: The pinging tones of a cell phone’s short message service (otherwise known as an SMS, or text).

In my case on my phone it isn’t an urgent message from the office, friends or family (sigh): instead they are a multitude of solicitations trying to help me speak to “d” public or “increase my height” with new “Japanese technology” now available in India. Never mind those companies are marketing to the wrong person: I’m close to 6-feet tall and I speak to the public all the time as a part of my work as a correspondent.

There were many others that are too boring to mention, but suffice it to say none of them were even remotely useful. I wouldn’t take what they were offering even if it was free so there was no way they were going to find a customer in me. I counted the number of unwanted SMS solicitations for a week and it came to an average of 12 per day. That does not include the unwanted solicitation calls I get.

Now I know what you are thinking: I should just turn the sound off. But in my line of work I cannot afford to do that. Here in India, just about everyone communicates through SMS as much as they do anything else. I didn’t want to miss an important text or call from a source, so the sound stays on. But I spend too much time each day trying to delete the texts I don’t want and keep the ones I need.

To be fair a lot of people must find these solicitations useful; India’s bulk message market is estimated to be worth about $68 million annually, according to the Press Trust of India. There are a lot of customers to solicit in India, which now has an estimated 850 million-plus mobile phone subscribers. Imagine the possibilities.

But today - September 27, 2011 – was a good day for those of us who don't want to be bothered.

Why? Because today is supposed to be D-day for mobile phone solicitors in India – the day when unsolicited texts and phone calls all over India are supposed to stop if you are registered with the government’s National Do Not Call registry.  I registered, and I’m not alone – more than 130 million people have signed up.

Telemarketing companies that break the rules can be fined up to $5000 or be shut down if they are repeat offenders. I know the companies know this because at 9:39 p.m. on September 26 I received an SMS titled Brkgnews (short for breaking news) that read: “We Cant SMS you from 27 Sep. Please Save Our No. In Ph. Book.” It was from a company selling real estate in a city where I am never planning to live. I deleted it with a smile.

Now it turns out we SMS users have to take a bit of pain with our pudding.

From now on, regular customers can only send 100 texts per day from a single SIM card in India (it is a move to try and keep unscrupulous companies from using unregistered phones to send bulk messages).

It is a price I am more than willing to pay for a little peace and quiet, at least from my mobile phone. I hope this new rule works.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: India

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Neil Cassidy

    This article needs punctuation. I guess CNN doesn't care about comma rules? And obviously you can't use "someone" as it's used here: "To be fair a lot of someone’s must find..." Shameful.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  2. gliese42

    CNN needs Anil Kapoor

    September 28, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  3. Ron48

    When opening cnn site I find it very informative with a lot of videos to compliment. Keep it up.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  4. Indian dude

    The only good thing this govt has done since India's independence (in 1947).

    September 28, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  5. Rex Remes

    Hey Neil,

    At least the author likes using colons and dashes! haha.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  6. Francis Cagney

    This is wonderful news. I'm long term in India, and don't switch my phone on anymore because of the stupid SMSs, and even worse robot calls exhorting me to download ringtones.

    Once I leave Kashmir I'll see if I can reload my SIM, register with the don't call registry. Wonderful article, thanks.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  7. free speech

    All against SPAM, but this is an abridgement of free speech rights. If someone SPAMs (defined as unsolicited commercial advertising), then complain and fine them. But what about NGOs doing an awareness SMS camaign against corruption? Why should they be restricted? Why restrict all to restrict a few? Not a healthy move.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:29 am |


    September 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  9. Kabir Abubakar

    Well, am glad that has happened in India. Please NCC do something here in Nigeria too

    September 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  10. Kme

    They should limit it to 10 SMS a day, not 100. It is too easy to hire 2nd parties to do 100 a day for next to nothing.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:19 am |
  11. Karthik Kumar

    The opportunity is far too lucrative for us to escape this particular hell. It is only early days now. Don't be too sure that it will last, since, someone, somewhere is figuring out how to get through this particular barrier.

    September 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Abby

    If that doesn't work ... you might try to get a new phone number and only give it to the people who really need it...or, if you like the alternative, text the sender back with the "this is my new number". Worth a shot.

    September 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  13. Aaron Sr.

    Sara Sidner and CNN is the best News source in the World.

    October 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
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