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Philippines bans text spam

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The National Telecommunication Commission or NTC has issued Memorandum Circular 04-07-2009, disallowing push messages, otherwise known as text spam.  Commercial and promotional advertisements, surveys and other broadcast messages shall be allowed only upon prior written consent by the subscribers," the NTC said.

It said contents and any form of information for a fee shall only be delivered to subscribers who requested for such content and/or information on a per request basis.  At the same time, it required telecom companies to keep records of all requests for contents and/or information from the subscribers for the delivery of content for at least two months.

In response, analysts said the order will shackle the growth of mobile advertising in the country.  "It will have a large impact on mobile advertising, which is a growing industry," Jay Bautista, executive director of advertising research firm Nielsen Media said.

Eric Barrera, a researcher at Nielsen Media Research who presented results of a study on mobile phone users, said a lot of companies were looking at the potential of mobile advertising in the Philippines.

"A mobile phone is now a multi-media device.  About 61 percent of the 10.4 million residents of Mega Manila, who are ten years old and up, now own cell phones," he said.

Bautista said a company, using a European technology, is even planning to introduce a mobile advertising service in the country, which would give subscribers free voice calls and text messaging.

He said the company has a pending application before the National Telecommunication Commission.  "We don't know yet if their application will be approved," he said.

Nielsen and advertising firm Trackworks disclosed results of a survey conducted among 100 mobile phone users who are at the same time commuters of LRT and MRT trains, from July 4 to 6 this year.  The respondents were part of the mobile panel service of Nielsen, with a total of 1,000 members.

The quick-turnaround survey found that aside from voice calls and SMS, about 30 percent of the respondents use their phones for Internet browsing, 12 percent for music, 16 percent for chat, 16 percent for email, and 12 percent for games.

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