Saturday, March 24, 2007

Where now for premium rate

Chances are if you are reading this, you will know something about the premium rate industry. Recently it seems almost all of the UK media industry has been affected by competition fixing, failures to handle competition entries correctly, over-charging and so on. It doesnt paint a good picture for the industry. I am glad to say that ever since I worked at Broadsystem and Telecom Express I never saw any of this go on and always pulled heaven and earth together to resolve technical issues so that they had no affect on the consumer. It appears most of the issues in premium rate telephony and text come down to human error, very few things I have read appear to be technical issues. I do wonder if the government and the governing bodies such as ICSTIS have kept their head in the sand to make sure the industry runs above board. Its almost impossible to police this area because premium rate is used so widely these days.

So where now, many of the big brand media companies have put their premium rate services on hold. They must be losing a huge amount of revenue which they would have budgeted for at the start of their last financial year. So I think we have to assume they will wait for things to quiet down before starting where they left off. But there are questions left open here, who is keeping an eye on the industry?

ICSTIS appear to wait for complaints to come in before before slapping somebodies wrist rather than pro-actively getting involved with the industry. It also seems the government doesnt understand the ins and outs of premium rate. Also I think we will start to see this industry offshore as the industry aims to continue to bring costs down. I also believe the mobile operators need to be more pro-active, they seem happy to deliver and bill on the traffic but dont work closely with the service providers to clean up the industry. I cant remember the mobile operators really taking any interest in how providers actually used their services, as long as the money kept rolling in eh?

So, it's time to replace parts of ICSTIS, OFCOM, gambling and lottery commisions with a new body, and this time give them the task of working closely with the industry and actually help them rather than just publish ednless reccomendations and expect the industry to police itself. The industry and bodies up to now have been rather lazy when it comes to being above board, there are better ways that dont have to appear heavy handed to encourage more openess and greater honesty. Nuf said!