India has some pretty severe problems with SMS spam – so bad that an actual Government minister has complained in Parliament about being woken up in the middle of the night by spam texts. Today one of the best known mobile social networks in India, the text-based SMS GupShup, has announced a new application for operators and mobile marketers that could help curb the tide.
What’s the story?
SMS spam is a really serious problem in India. The Government has introduced anti-spam regulation, but has found that enforcing those regulations is almost impossible. As a result it is now claimed that almost 50% of all text messages sent in India are marketing spam.
So, who are these SMS GupShup guys and why do they think they can do what the Government can’t?
SMS GupShup is a massive SMS-based social network in India that works a lot like a mailing group. It’s based on communities that can be formed around any topic. Once you’ve joined a community, your SMS to the group will be sent out to all members. Over 45 million people use the service, and advertisers, brands and businesses (including Facebook) have created their own GupShup communities, in order to communicate with Indian audiences.
According to GupShup, the reason that the measures that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) are taking won’t work is because they’re too time consuming for operators to implement. They way it breaks down is this: a National Do-Not-Call list was established by the TRAI. If a consumer puts their number on that list, it is no longer legal for them to be sent any spam messages, or to be called by telemarketers. The problem here is that this is an honor-system: unscrupulous marketers can still send those people SMS – they’re just not meant to. In order to get around that, the TRAI also maintains a database of trusted, registered telemarketers who do follow the rules. So if the mobile operators and marketing companies in India only allow TRAI-registered telemarketers to use their channels, there should be no more spam issues. And here is where SMS GupShup says the problem lies – it claims that for big companies, the process of continuously updating those databases to be in line with TRAI Registry is just too time consuming and too expensive.
The new system is set to come into effect within the next month – and operators or marketers who allow spam to be sent through their channels will face heavy fines. So SMS GupShup is releasing an application especially for these companies, which will update their database of TRAI Telemarketing Registered companies twice every week. Called the SMS GupShup Scrubber, it will allow carriers, telemarketers, outbound call centers and SMS message aggregators to fully comply with the TRAI guidelines, and quickly “scrub” unregistered mobile and landline numbers out of their database.
What we think?
This is part of a continuing story that shows how much better things can be for operators when walls start to come down. Here’s a third-party developer of an SMS-based social platform, and it is now offering a plausible solution to a massive problem that operators in the country have.