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Vodafone blocks Netcore & free SMS

Divya Subramaniam & Rajesh S Kurup  |  Mumbai 

GSM service provider Vodafone-Essar has blocked entrepreneur Rajesh Jain-promoted Netcore Solutions’ free SMS alert service, alleging the service does not comply with the regulations. This is the second instance of the services being blocked — earlier by Bharti Airtel in November 2008.

Netcore offers the service 'MyToday' to 3.8 million mobile phone users in the country. Jain was the founder of IndiaWorld Communications, a small start-up, which was acquired in 1999 by IT major Sify Technologies for around Rs 500 crore.

Vodafone-Essar has blocked the services since morning today, for which the company has not quoted any reasons. We were informed of the 'block’ by our value-added service provider Smart Wireless, while some customers also complained of not receiving the service, a top official of Netcore Solutions told Business Standard today.

The GSM operator has blocked the short-code ‘575758’ to which users had to sent-in their ‘opt-in request’. Netcore, through its service provider Smart Wireless, is in talks with Vodafone-Essar to resolve the crisis, they added.

A couple of Vodafone-Essar subscribers also confirmed the development and said that the services could not be accessed on Monday.

When contacted Netcore officials confirmed the development, but declined to provide details. Vodafone Essar declined to comment on the issue. Vodafone-Essar is believed to have blocked the services, alleging these do not comply with the Regulatory Authority of

India’s (Trai) National Do Not Call (NDNC) regulations. TRAI had rolled out NDNC to curb unsolicited commercial communications (UCC), including unsolicited SMSes and pesky calls, and had even set up a registry.

This is the second instance of the services being blocked as in November, leading GSM operator Bharti Airtel has blocked the service. However, the services were later restored.

Earlier, in an earlier interview with Business Standard, Rajesh Jain had stated that the services were "opt-in" and not unsolicited.

This means that a mobile phone user has to subscribe to the service by sending an SMS.

According to Trai’s recent ‘Recommendations on Growth of Value Added Services and Regulatory Issues’, access service provider cannot block mobile portals of consumers who have subscribed to GPRS or WAP services. TRAI has recommended that there cannot be “selective blocking of mobile portals or short codes”.

First Published: Tue, February 17 2009. 00:37 IST