Carriers Join Together In Effort To Fight SMS Spam

Thailand’s three major wireless carriers- AIS, DTAC and True Move have banned together in an effort to block SMS spam collectively for the country- up to 9 million messages per day.

It’s estimated the carriers will collectively spend roughly 30 million baht (roughly $883,000) on anti-spam software using an application center to filter unsolicited advertising across their networks.  Before, customers could only inform their mobile operators to block spam SMS messages if they were sent from within the same network, but starting August 31st, the new software put in place will block an estimated 90% of SMS spam across all networks.

Thailand serves a lot of SMS messages- AIS has 28 million subscribers, DTAC 20 million and True Move 15 million.  The country’s largest operator, AIS, handles about 100 million text messages a day, DTAC about the same, while True Move registers 70 million.  In addition to the measures put in place, each operator has dedicated a “call center number,” or shortcode so to speak, to allow customers to block unwanted content.  Spam SMS sent from any of the three networks will be automatically blocked within 24 hours of a complaint.

Accompanying the 100s of millions of regular SMS messages sent every day in Thailand, each carrier also sends roughly 10 million bulk SMS messages daily from brands sending marketing and promotional messages, cutting down on this spam will undoubtedly cut into the profits of each carrier, but customer complaints regarding spam have overtaken the need to profit from these bulk messages.  The only exception to the blockage of SMS messages is from what’s called “white” messages- those relating to financial information or transaction updates from banks.

It’s an unprecedented move by all carriers in a specific country, and one that will most likely be adopted in other parts of the world.  SMS spam has become a problem in North America as well, but for some reason I don’t see something like this happening.  Getting all the major US carriers to agree to something is much easier said than done, but I think all carriers should take notice of what’s going on in Thailand’s wireless industry.  It shoud be interesting to see the results of this move later down the road, to see not only if it’s effective, but also how it affects the carrier’s bottom lines- being that bulk SMS distribution is a major source of revenue for any carrier.