Latest reports confirm that the Indian government has lifted the ban on sending bulk SMS and MMS throughout the country with immediate effect from today. What comes across as surprising, however, is that it has done so a good day before the stipulated deadline – August 31, 2012. The Times of India quoted a home ministry official as saying, “After reviewing the matter again on Thursday, the ministry lifted the restriction allowing citizens to use text messages and MMSes without any limit of numbers with immediate effect.”

Clearly, there were many who were not happy with the way the events were shaping up. One consumer wrote, “who will pay for those who have subscribed daily sms pack under special scheme like 95 rs for daily 100 sms?  Will government pay me back or network provider?,” while another one added, “A kind request to Govt. Plz withdraw this rule as soon as possible even today itself. SMS matters a lot for me.Call is not possible so SMS has become a source of life for me.”

One mobile phone to every poor family (Image credit: Getty Images

Ban no more (Image credit: Getty Images)

The government, as per an earlier decision, had limited the maximum number of SMSes that one could send at a time to 5. Later, however, amidst criticism from the masses, the bar was lifted to accomodate 20 SMSes to be sent at a time

The recent ban on sending bulk SMS and MMS across the country, proved to be quite a spoiler, since SMS is a popular mode of communication in the country. The decision by the Indian government came in the light of the North East exodus in the country. Even as those from the northeast continued to flee from their residences across the country, the government found that the SMS medium had been misused to send hordes of SMSes to those from the North East. The decision was made in order to curtail text messages and MMSes containing rumours or misleading information about the Assam violence.

It was also found that these messages contained fabricated videos and supposed threats to northeasterners living in several cities across the country, causing much panic among those of northeastern origin. The Home Ministry has asked the Department of Telecommunications to implement the order through telecom operators in the country. 

The ban on bulk SMS had its affect on the business of telemarketers, too. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had recently asserted that the ban on bulk SMS be lifted immediately, as it was affecting the business of several medium and small enterprises operating in the country. The association added further in its statement that there are over 1,00,000 enterprises, largely small and medium enterprises that use the SMS medium to reach out to their customers. These messages are sent out by over 3,000 registered telemarketers in line with TRAI's rules. 

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