China Mobile cracks down on messaging abuses

China Mobile Communications Corp., China’s largest mobile operator, is getting tough with companies that violate the agreements that let them provide mobile messaging services to China Mobile’s subscribers.

Mobile messaging is big business in China, where millions of users pay to receive content, such as news updates or ringtones, delivered to their cell phones via Short Message Service (SMS) or Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages.

In an effort to reign in abuses by companies that provide messaging services, China Mobile has begun investigations into the activities of more than 20 content providers, according to Chinadotcom Corp., which has been penalized for its actions by China Mobile.

Chinadotcom Corp.’s Go2joy unit was sanctioned for several violations of its agreement with China Mobile, Chinadotcom said in a statement released on Friday. The actions that violated the agreement include charging inactive users, continuing to charge users after they had cancelled their accounts, and sending marketing messages that were “improperly worded,” it said.

The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the wording contained in the marketing messages.

As a result of these violations, China Mobile suspended indefinitely Go2joy’s ability to send SMS to China Mobile subscribers from Aug. 10, Chinadotcom said. In addition, China Mobile levied fines of around 1.3 million renminbi (US$156,880) on Go2joy, it said.

China Mobile will restore Go2joy’s ability to send SMS messages to China Mobile subscribers once remedial steps taken by Go2joy have been implemented and reviewed by China Mobile, Chinadotcom said.

Chinadotcom isn’t the only company to be sanctioned by China Mobile. Corp., which operates one of China’s most popular Web portals, has been banned from sending MMS messages to China Mobile subscribers for one year starting from Sept. 1. That penalty was imposed for Sohu sending 1,374 marketing messages without China Mobile’s prior approval, Sohu said, attributing the sending of the messages to an “unintended technical error.”

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