The government is working quickly towards normalising the situation in the country that exists currently, even as those of northeastern origins continue to flee different cities across the country fearing attacks. When it was found that hordes of SMSes, MMSes were finding their way across to the fear-stricken minds of those from the northeast causing them to panic and flee, the government issued a ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes in the country – hoping to nip the rumours in the bud.

The Home Ministry asked the Department of Telecommunications to implement the order through telecom operators in the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that rumours spread by miscreants in this way had resulted in those of northeastern origin to flee their homes across several places in the country. It had been found that the text messages and MMSes that had been circulating contained rumours or misleading information about the Assam violence. These messages were found to contain fabricated videos and supposed threats to northeasterners living in several cities across the country.

The official DoT circular (Image credit: Telecom Talk)

The official DoT circular (Image credit: Telecom Talk)

As it stands today, there exists a ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes. In the period that the ban is effective, it will not be possible to send more than five SMSes or more than 25KB of data at a time from a mobile phone number. While the move on one hand is being projected as a quick fix for a situation spiralling out of hand, citizens across the country are feeling the pinch, for SMS is a very popular mode of communication in the country. Clearly, there are many who are not happy with the latest turn of events. 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.”

The nation is soon going to be waking up to celebrations – It is Pateti today and Eid on Monday (August 20th, 2012), and it is during festivals that services like SMSes are used in aplenty – bulk SMS is the norm. But with the ban effectively in place, it leads one to wonder, if the festive spirit will fizzle.  

There already is a cap on the number of SMS that one can send in a day – 200 SMSes/day, per SIM – earlier, the limit was set to 100. The decision to cap it to 100 SMSes per day/ SIM, too met with a lot of criticism from the masses, who relied a lot on the service.  

So while at the moment users can send no more than 5 SMS at a time, they may still be able to send 200 SMSes in a day, per SIM – may be painfully slow, but would still work.  Interestingly, we tried sending 6 SMSes across and despite there being a ban, the messages went through. When we tried sending more than 5 SMSes to a single contact, we were barred after the 5th SMS.  The user is now unable to send anymore SMSes, and it is unclear as of now, whether he will be able to send anymore SMSes today.

Clearly, now services like Whatsapp, BBM will come out on the top, since this way consumers can at least get down to sending their messages through. This, however, leaves out those users who do not have access to these services.

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