Telecom regulator Trai has floated a consultation paper to discuss tariff-related issues for SMS and cell broadcast alerts through Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) platform during disasters and non-disasters.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allows SMS and cell broadcast free of cost only for a definite period and for events where a specific request for free of cost messages comes from specific nodal authorities.
Trai said there are certain occasions when the government would like to send alert messages free of cost to the public forewarning of a possible disaster.
“Or occasions where the public has to be informed of special events such as holding of relief/ vaccine/ medical camps/ specific law and order related situations etc,” Trai said, highlighting the relevance of the consultations.
The paper asked the telecom operators and other stake holders: “Is there a need for an elaborate tariff fixation exercise for CAP messages? In the alternative, would it be better from the perspective of ease of regulation to keep all categories of alerts/ messages free of charge? Is keeping all CAP alerts/ messages free of charge an economically prudent and viable option?”
The cell broadband platform is used to send messages to several users in a specific geographical area simultaneously. The broadcast range can vary from a single cell to the overall network. Currently, cell broadcast has been included in the existing 3G, 2G, 3GPP, and LTE standards.
The purpose of this consultation paper is to elicit stakeholders’ views on the tariff for SMS/cell broadcast disseminated by TSPs through CAP platform during disasters/ non-disasters and to understand the technical aspects that might have an impact on the cost of the service. Trai has invited written comments by December 1, and counter-comments by December 15.