AU comms regulator reiterates mobile content warning

The Australian Communications Authority has reinforced its warning for telecommunications carriers to behave and follow regulations for mobile phone content.ACA acting chairman Bob Horton issued the warning to carriers after releasing new number ranges for premium rate telecommunications services on mobile devices.

The Australian Communications Authority has reinforced its warning for telecommunications carriers to behave and follow regulations for mobile phone content.

ACA acting chairman Bob Horton issued the warning to carriers after releasing new number ranges for premium rate telecommunications services on mobile devices.

Horton said "The new number ranges will come into use on 31 May 2004 and the ACA expects service providers to behave responsibly in providing premium rate services."

He said 195 and 196 number ranges have been reserved for adult services. However, the numbers cannot be used until "further regulatory protection has been introduced by the ACA." The regulations will be introduced in four months.

Horton warned telecommunications carriers to follow regulations or face the consequences.

"The ACA will not tolerate adult services being carried on any other of the new SMS and MMS number ranges and will monitor and enforce these matters," Horton said.

Bruce Matthews, executive manager for telecommunications licensing, previously warned that telecommunications carriers found guilty of not complying with the ACA regulation will be fined up to AU$10 million.

Matthews also said that the gravity of the violation will be "determined through a public consultation in an appropriate form."

The ACA did an industry trial for premium rate short message service (SMS) and multi-media message services (MMS) using seven-digit 188 numbers before releasing the new number ranges.

The numbers released are 4,000 six-digit numbers starting with 191, 193, 194 and 195 and 300,000 eight-digit numbers beginning with 196, 197 and 199.

Horton emphasised consumers should have access to information on complaints procedures and services information.

"Consumers should be able to access a range of complaints procedures including an independent body for handling complaints that cannot be resolved by the service provider. The ACA expects that the industry will develop an appropriate model for escalated complaints procedures that is beneficial to both the industry and consumers," Horton said.

He added that "Consumers should be provided with information about the services, such as the name of the provider of the content, the cost of the service, conditions of entry for competitions and instructions on how to discontinue a service."

"It is in the industry's interest to have consumer protection mechanisms at this early stage in the development of the premium rate industry, rather than have the ACA determine prescriptive rules if problems arise down the track," Horton said.

Allocation of the new number ranges will be managed by Industry Number Management Services Ltd.