China sets limit on Spring Festival SMS

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Mobile phone users in China will need to limit the number of Chinese New Year text messages they send during Spring Festival as part of a crackdown on spam messages.

An agreement among the country's three main mobile network operators last June stipulates that if the number of messages sent from a phone number reaches 200 within an hour or 1,000 within a day, the phone's message service will be suspended for a week.

For holidays and weekends, the allowable limit will increase to 500 hourly and 2,000 every day, it said.

Wei Leping, chief-engineer from China Telecom told China Daily yesterday that even during Spring Festival, the crackdown on spam messages will continue.

"Even though such strict measures to fight against junk messages are taken, many people still receive tens of such messages," Wei said.

Mobile phone subscribers received about 10 spam messages every week by the end of 2008, which means more than 300 million unwanted messages were delivered that year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The most common type of spam includes promotions for real estate, retail, traffic and tourism industries.

Considering the harm of spam messages, some phone users support the limitation on message numbers.

Sun Qian, a postgraduate at Liaoning Normal University, said it was a good service.

"A normal person rarely sends more than 100 messages within an hour even during holidays, unless he or she is a spammer or a cheater," Sun said.

Li Dong, a salesman at Adobe said: "As a salesman, I have to send thousands of messages to my clients during Spring Festival. The operators have no right to close my text message service because I deliver too many messages."

Official figures show Chinese mobile phone users sent 18 billion text messages during last year's 7-day Spring Festival holiday, and the figure is expected to increase this year.

Wei said operators did not have the right to read short messages and decide which was junk and which was not.

There were about 700 million mobile users on the Chinese mainland as of July last year.

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