SMS & MMS messaging is now the most widely used form of communication. Why is it not properly regulated by a commission that is supposed to regulate communication?
Have you ever wondered why you do not receive SMS appointment reminders from your doctor? Or why you cannot send an MMS picture of your injury to your doctor’s office? Why do restaurants still use vibrating pagers when everyone has a mobile phone. Ever wonder why you cannot text message an order to a pizza shop and receive pick-up confirmation texted back to you?
Well - It is not because nobody thought of these ideas and they are relatively simple and obvious. The reason is because the wireless carriers block innovation.
Let’s go into some background:
First, all four major networks (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile) have colluded through an organization called CTIA to allow a single service provider (Neustar) allocate short numbers (usshortcodes.com). This monopoly on short numbers allows Neustar to charge a monstrous fee of $500 per month per number. “Why use a shortcode, why not use regular numbers?” you are asking yourself. Well the carriers consider any business that uses a mobile phone number to communicate with their customers a “Violation of Service”. And then they block you from sending what is legitimate communication traffic.
Once you have purchased your short code for $500/month from Neustar you are then tasked with contacting each mobile network operator to connect it. Americans are not used to having to call each telephone network and request connectivity to receive calls. The FCC has done a great job mandating interconnection yet the FCC has folded on text messaging services.
Each carrier has separate requirements to connect and request information before. Some review your message flow, some review your content, other’s perform a full evaluation of your business model. It can take 4-6 weeks for them to get back to you. Businesses in America have never had to justify their business model to a phone company or inform them of what they would be talking to their customers about. The mobile networks claim the right to reject or delay your connectivity request for any reason and block the number you have purchased. Could you imagine if you tried to call your insurance company and your phone company said “Sorry you can’t call them because we feel their insurance rates are too high.” This is the current state of the business.
I believe interconnection should be mandatory for SMS services. Businesses should be able to use either a phone number or a short number. They should be able to purchase any number they want and be connected instantly. Businesses should not be required to request connectivity; they should not have to describe their business or what their messages say. There should be no central authority that approves or denies ideas and services. Let innovation reign!
Businesses SHOULD be fined for sending illegal (adult) content or spamming. Nearly everyone in the country is aware of the do-not-call list. The FCC has regulated telemarketing and robo-calling very well so they could surely do it for SMS/MMS successfully. People will be quick to report spamming on their phone. I do believe Premium /Billing transactions should still require approvals.