Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Complaints on Wireless Phone Carriers' Texting Policies

It seems that the texting policies of mobile phone carriers have caught the attention of Public interest and consumer groups. Recently, these groups have requested that mobile-phone operators should not be allowed to make discriminatory interference with text messaging.

They have made this request to the FCC. Public Knowledge, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, EDUCAUSE, Free Press, Media Access Project, New America Foundation and U.S. PIRG are behind the petition for declaratory ruling.

The petition states that,
“Mobile carriers currently can and do arbitrarily decide what customers to serve and which speech to allow on text messages, refusing to serve those that they find controversial or that compete with the mobile carriers’ services. This type of discrimination would be unthinkable and illegal in the world of voice communications, and it should be so in the world of text messaging as well.”
Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, explains their request,For many people, texting has replaced calling as a way of keeping in touch. The FCC should make certain that text messages, and the short codes used to dial them, are protected from interference from telephone companies.”

There have also been other complaints made to mobile phone carriers made by these groups. For instance, NARAL Pro-Choice America had a run-in with Verizon Wireless. The complaint was about a short code that the carrier wanted to use to send wireless alerts to supporters. Verizon had no choice but to reversecourse and give the abortion-rights organization access to its network in the face of the controversy gaining the attention of the national media.

Also, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) firm called Rebtel has not fared as well in efforts to secure short code-enabled text message rights from Verizon Wireless, Alltel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. Rebtel offers low-cost international calling on mobile phones. Verizon responded that it is standard practice to reject short codes from companies with whom it competes.

Let us hope that this petition would resolve the issue and a solution that is favorable to both parties will be reached.

No comments: