Reliance, Amazon spar over international SMS routing – BusinessLine

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By BL Mumbai Bureau
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Telecom operators led by Reliance Jio have complained to the telecom regulator that players such as Amazon may be flouting regulations governing international messages by routing SMS through servers located outside the country. 
“The Authority is aware that we, as telecom service providers have encountered certain entities deliberately withholding the complete call flow diagram of their SMS. Upon closer examination, it became apparent that the intention was to conceal the details of servers outside of India that prompts the generation and sending of SMS. These messages are routed through mediation servers installed in India. Such mediation servers receive the SMS in various forms such as IP through internet/leased lines and send it to the Indian domestic PSTN network using the links established with telemarketer/TSPs for domestic A2P messages,” Reliance Jio said in a submission to the TRAI. 
The Cellular Operators Association of India alleged that the mirroring/mediation (media gateway) setup’s sole purpose is to prevent having to pay the international SMS termination charge and the mediation server is deliberately inserted in the call flow with the purpose of avoiding the payment of the international termination charge.
In a traditional network, an SMS originating from the US, for example, would be routed by an American telecom operator to the international long-distance network until it reaches the Indian shores from where it gets connected to the domestic network of an Indian operator before it gets delivered to the US. However, in the case of Amazon and other digital players, some of the messages are routed using cloud servers and are handed over to an Indian operator in India as a domestic SMS. 
“Such routing is illegitimate and bypasses the licence route i.e. ILDO, to deliver an international SMS to an end-subscriber (PSTN break-out). It is also one among a few other illegitimate routes exploited by a handful of entities, and this also pose serious security risks as such traffic bypasses any lawful monitoring mechanism,” COAI said. 
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Amazon, however, has told the TRAI that advancement of technology has resulted in various solutions, which operate prior to the actual generation of a SMS. “These upstream applications or systems do not interact with any telecom network, and do not result in the initiation of SMS, and therefore, it would be very expansive to include within the definition of international SMS “data, application, or systems which influences, generates, control, facilitate or enable”, as this definition would include systems which do not interact with the telecom networks, at all.” Amazon said. 
The Internet and Mobile Association of India has backed Amazon by saying that the definitions of domestic SMS and International SMS are not provided in TRAI regulations.
“The ambiguities surrounding “international SMS” and “domestic SMS” allows telecom service providers to adopt their own interpretation and categorise a message generated by a computer resource / server located outside India as “international SMS”, in spite of the origination and termination of the SMS being limited to the network of TSPs in India, to bring it under the scope of forbearance. This has also led to expansive interpretation by the TSPs in India, which has resulted in difficulty in carrying out digital businesses. Entities sending SMS to their customers, for better business practices and for regulatory compliance are often subject to higher tariff rates as determined by the TSPs,” IAMAI said.
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