Rise and Fall of Free SMS Websites in Pakistan

The trend of Free SMS websites in Pakistan was started after 2001 and people started making websites that we’re able to provide service to national and overseas people to send free SMS in Pakistan. Before one decade it was an awesome opportunity for people to send SMS via these websites because at that time prices of text messages were as high as the sky. One reason for higher prices was that there was a monopoly of telecom networks and at that time only Ufone and Mobilink were the telcos that were in action. Prices of sims, calls and SMS were 30 times higher than the current prices.

People were using these websites in the below situations:

  • Low balance in sim.
  • No mobile phone.
  • Living outside Pakistan.
  • For rapid advertisement.

Free sms websites were proved so much successful till 2008 because till then prices of calls and sms were high. But after the introduction of sms bundles by all telcos, people started using their sims and usage of free websites went down dramatically. In 2012 PTA cracked down against these free sms websites for breaching their policies, because these websites were increasing the load on telecom networks. Major reason for breaching PTA’s policies was the bulk sms service that few websites were providing. But after that crackdown, almost 60% of companies stopped their websites.

Why Telcos Hate Free SMS Websites?

These websites are cutting down revenues of all telecom companies and because of this reason many telcos internationally banned free messaging services like WhatsApp and Viber, such incident has happened in Saudi Arabia where telecom companies have tried their best to block WhatsApp.

Especially, foreign telecom companies don’t like these websites because international messages are the most costly ones, overseas Pakistanis have to pay up to 150 rupees per SMS if they are using any expensive international telecom’s sim card.

To Whom these Sites have Utmost Importance?

Obviously not all overseas Pakistanis are rich, Pakistani labours working in Gulf and other countries where SMS and call rates are very high, have to pay so much for just 1 sms and 1-minute call. Most of them don’t contact their family because of these much prices, because they are there to earn livelihood not for wasting money. These websites are most beneficial for those overseas Pakistanis and free sms websites are free heaven for these poor guys. I’d love to quote an incident here that happened to me when I was travelling to Dubai, a person next to me in the plane was suggesting his friend to use iFun website to send free SMS to Pakistan because it’s a free way to contact your family. He also said and appraised so much that website and I were surprised that how much these websites are God’s gift for these people.

Current Situations

I’m not sure what’s going to happen now because PTA has ordered telcos to re-verify all sims by bio-metric technology. As I discussed previously that some websites are using these sims illegally, have to face difficulty because I’m pretty sure that their sims aren’t registered on real people’s names; except iFun, because I’ve found it a legit website, they have everything authorized and I’ve used their service personally.

Final Words

In the near future, I personally think that PTA is going to clean more illegal free sms websites and will cut the crap from internet sites. Because these illegal sites that are allowing anyone to send sms to any number without any verification can be a great problem for the security of Pakistan. After this crackdown, I don’t see these illegal sites alive and only a few legit websites will keep running in the long term.