NZ mobile operators coy over adult content

While Australia’s SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. and Hutchison Telecommunications Australia Ltd. are happy to provide pornography to mobile phone customers, local operators Telecom New Zealand Ltd. and Vodafone New Zealand Ltd. are more bashful about adult content for their new 3G (third-generation) networks.

Mobile porn is popular in some countries with advanced mobile phone networks and one estimate says the global market will be worth US$1 billion within four years.

Kieren Cooney, Vodafone’s general manager of new markets, says the mobile operator will be “very cautious about adult content” as it’s not something the company “would really want to be associated with”.

According to Cooney, Vodafone won’t be launching any restricted content without an age verification mechanism. That’s still months away, he says. Cooney says Vodafone hasn’t signed up any 3G phone content providers yet and it’s still early days for 3G content. In Australia, Hutchison beams the Playboy Channel to mobile subscribers who request it.

Likewise, Telecom New Zealand spokeswoman Sarah Berry says the telco has no “mobile porn” department. Because Telecom sees itself as a mobile network infrastructure provider rather than a content deliverer, it’s not currently seriously considering adult services for mobile customers, she says.

However, Berry says customers wanting adult content on the hoof can use Telecom’s Internet-enabled mobile devices to receive services from third-party providers.

Telecom has a substantial stake in INL, the majority owner of Sky Television, which currently transmits pay-per-view adult satellite programming in NZ. Although industry observers are sceptical about the competitiveness of adult content for mobiles in comparison to existing Internet-delivered material, analysts Strategic Analytics expect the market to reach US$1 billion globally by 2008.

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