Ban on SMSs during elections to hit premium business

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Shimla, Dec 3 (UNI) The Election Commission's (EC) decision to ban use of short messaging services (SMSs) 48 hours before the polls will hit premium business, according to mobile service providers.

''The EC's ban, which is likely to be extended in future elections too, would definitely hit our premium business and the telecom companies will have to forego this bonus,'' said a spokesman of a mobile company, requesting anonymity.

He said the ban would affect direct marketing companies and telecom service providers, who were expected to earn premium business during the two-day period when campaigning comes to an end.

The use of SMSs two days before polling has been made an offence by the poll panel under the Peoples' Representation Act and observors have been appointed to monitor any violations.

The service providers have also been asked to trace any SMS seeking votes for any candidate in less then 30 minutes after it was sent to a voter.

The spokesman said messages were widely used in the last general elections by almost all political parities after campaigning ended 48 hrs before polling.

It was, however, difficult to quantify the total premium business generated during the elections then and the total loss due to the ban this time, he said.

Since bulk messages, which normally range between 20 to 50 paise depending on the quantity, were cheaper than normal messages, these help in getting additional business to the service provider and cheap service to the consumers, he said.

The spokesman said messages were generally sent through direct marketing companies, using special software or through web portals that allow free messaging, to thousands of customers at a time.


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