What does this mean for end customers? If other large operators followed Airtel with SMS interconnects, businesses would end up paying substantially higher prices for A2P SMS capacity. Given that SMS is becoming a necessity across many lines of business in various industries, this is an unfair penalty being imposed on enterprises and therefore on customers.
For consumer-centric A2P SMS services, it would sound the death knell. There is no way they would be able to afford these higher costs, and would in effect be forced to curtail services to the extent of making them practically useless. An innovative business model created in India would die.
Incidentally, TRAI had looked at the SMS Interconnect issue in 2006, and come up with a consultation paper on the issue. TRAI did not come out with any recommendations on the issue (A2P SMS was still a small industry then). They left it to market forces to decide (“forbearance”) even though, from what I gathered talking to people involved in the process then, the intent was “Bill and Keep” (which would have meant no interconnect charges).
So, what is the solution? Is there one which is fair and equitable? Yes.