Intrusive SMS on prepaid phones


Google Search is an amazing free service. Many professions depend on it for research. Actually the word google is an accepted verb in the English lexicon. I have always wondered how some of us ever survived without it in the pre-Facebook generation.

Google must have a way to make money out of this fantastic service so that the company continues to innovate the search engine. Google surely does. For example, when you google ‘diabetes’, Google search will go ahead to give you suggestions arranged in order of closeness to what you are looking for.

On the far right, the search engine will include paid-up search results.


In the case of diabetes search, Google may alert you that you may wish to read ‘The Diabetes Code’ by Dr Jason Fang. When you hit that link, Google Search goes ahead to invoice Dr Fang for an advert.

Because the paid search results are intelligently matched to your search, you hardly notice the advertising material.

I have phone with two SIM-card slots. I have two prepaid TNM numbers in there. Why two numbers from the same carrier?


I have had the first number for many years and its almost my identity. The second number has a beautiful combination of numbers; I did BASIC programming many years ago and ended up with an obsession with number arrangements.

On average, I receive not less than three advertising texts from the carrier TNM on a daily basis for each SIM card. That makes it not less than six messages per day. The TNM system surely knows that the two numbers are in one handset, why then send the same message to both numbers?

What are these messages all about? There was time when I got messages throughout the night about dog vaccination program in Natcholi, Kachere, Lunzu and Bangwe. The tower from where my phone taps its signal should have informed my carrier’s system about where I stay.

And if TNM guys cared to ask, I should have told them that I have never tamed dogs in my entire life; and have I been around for a long time!

There is yet another one from MOEST and this is a message to teachers on government payroll. I am columnist and computer engineer; I surely respect teachers but I am not one.

I have an Airtel number as well. Airtel may have their own issues but let me vindicate it on this one; Airtel seldom sends advertising text messages. When it does, it is usually nothing that I detest.

Airtel, once in a while, reminds me that my phone is 3G and that I should make it piggyback on 4G pocket Airtel MiFi. I appreciate that the company’s system cares to know what handset I have.

One of my friends has a TNM post-paid number and he tells me that TNM does not send him any advertising material. Why should a pre-paid account be a blackboard for TNM’s adverts?

I surely paid for the SIM, the handset and continue to pay for airtime. It is not free service as Google Search. Or there must be a way to opt out of such advertising material if one is as bored as I am.

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