Exactly a year ago, Bangalore city traffic police started an initiative to update general public about traffic jams through SMS for the convenience of motorists. But the much-appreciated service has come to a halt after a recent tariff hike on sending bulk SMS by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Trai recently tweaked the guidelines on sending bulk SMS in order to stop pesky calls. The revised guidelines imposed a rate of 50 paise per SMS in excess of 100 sent in a day.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic) MA Saleem said Trai's recent decision to hike tariff on bulk SMS had forced the withdrawal of the service which warned motorists of traffic-choked roads. The SMSes also kept drivers informed about traffic impediments such as tree falls, VIP movement or breakdown of heavy vehicles.
"The SMS update has been stopped after the service providers asked us to pay more money per SMS. We cannot pay such huge amount. I had written a letter to Trai to give us concession for the service, but so far I have not got any reply," Saleem said.
The SMS update was introduced in 2009, but was stopped temporarily after Trai imposed ban on sending bulk SMS. In December 2011, police took permission from Trai and re-started the facility, but this time people had to subscribe for the service.
"We discussed with service providers and got some concession," said Saleem. "There were more than 35,000 subscribers when the service was stopped in December, 2012. We used to pay 1.25 paise per SMS, which use to cost us around `30,000 per month. But after Trai hiked tariff on sending bulk SMS, they asked us to pay 20 paise per SMS, which would have cost us more than `6 lakh per month. Hence we stopped the facility."
"Bangalore traffic police was the first to start SMS updates on traffic movement. Other major cities followed us but with the recent hike, they, too, have stopped the service," Saleem added.