You know that number you have to send a message to when you vote for your favorite American Idol? And the number you have to send a message to in order to get that “free ring tone” you saw on TV? Well, those numbers are called “short codes” and any company that wants one has to apply for it through a wireless carrier. However, it seems that wireless carriers are slow to hand these out, and some speculate that it has to do with competition. In an article on RCR Wireless News.com the FCC launched a rule making to determine whether mobile text messages and short codes are covered by non-discrimination provisions of the telecom act. You can view the complete article here. Even companies like Google, Ebay, and Pay Pal have to apply for these codes.
Carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon claim “anti-competition” has nothing to do with their decision making process when determining which companies are granted codes and which ones aren’t, so it would be interesting to learn just what that criteria was. For instance a company like Rebtel that offers consumers a local phone number to dial virtually any number overseas is having a difficult time acquiring a short code from all 5 major carriers in the US. Is it because carriers would lose revenue on calls placed to overseas locations? Perhaps, but the article also states NARAL Pro-Choice America had a very difficult time with Verizon when it refused to grant them a short code. Verizon eventually caved in, but it’s hard to see how a pro choice organization could infringe on the profits of a wireless carrier, unless of course we’re getting into politics but that’s for another blog.