We Versus Vodafone

Today’s Business Standard has an article about Vodafone blocking our shortcode to stop people from subscribing to our (MyToday) opt-in SMS services. The real unstated reason for the block is that Vodafone believes our free SMS services are competitive to their paid services (Vodafone Alerts). So, rather than let the market and consumers decide, they chose the path of blocking a service which has grown word-of-mouth to 3.8 million subscribers in India in the past two years.

[On a side note: Since about 18 months ago, Vodafone has blocked access to our mobile portal (http://mytoday.com) for their Vodafone Live subscribers (which comprise the bulk of the GPRS subscriber base).]

All this is despite TRAI recommending last week in their MVAS recommendations that opt-in services override NDNC, off-deck services are permitted, and operators should not block short codes or mobile portals.

The British may have left India 60+ years ago but their Colonial Cousins still seem to be hanging around the country.

What do you think about this? And, what are our options? I’d love to hear from you.

  • Talking to Vodafone is nigh impossible — their pre-condition is we shut down the free SMS services.
  • We can go the legal route  – but that will take forever. We cannot even go to TDSAT since they only recognise disputes between telecom licence holders. (That is why we had asked TRAI for a light VAS Licence — so dispute redressal can be done quickly by TDSAT rather than the courts.)
  • What ‘Gandhigiri’ can be done to take on this Goliath?