Short Messaging Services could become dearer with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India proposing to impose interconnect usage charges (IUC) on every SMS that you send. In a consultation paper on regulating SMS, the telecom regulator has also suggested to review the pricing mechanism of premium messaging services like the ones used by broadcasters for voting and participating in competitions.
At present, interconnect charges are paid by operators to each other for voice calls. Under the present rules there is no such charge for SMS and operators follow the `bill and keep' model. If IUC is imposed on SMS, then Airtel will have to share a certain percentage of the SMS charge with Hutch.
The move, according to TRAI, is aimed at compensating operators whose networks are getting choked due to incoming SMS traffic. "With operators offering different bundled tariff plans for SMS and with SMS being increasingly used as an advertising medium, the SMS traffic imbalance across the operators is increasing. There is a possibility that some networks are burdened with a large proportion of incoming SMS traffic. Thus, there seems to be a need for regulatory intervention to ensure that no operator assumes an unnecessary burden," TRAI said in the consultation paper. The telecom regulator has, however, acknowledged that there is an apprehension that IUC could increase SMS tariffs and has therefore sought opinion of all the stakeholders by June 30.