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Consumers are more likely to change their operator than their mobile number to dodge the growing nuisance of text message spam. More than eight in 10 mobile phone users surveyed in a study by Switzerland's University of St.Gallen and mobile services firm bmd wireless have received unsolicited mobile messages.

Four in five (83 per cent) of telecoms industry representatives polled in the survey reckon mobile spam will be a critical issue within the next two years. With complaints about mobile phone spam on the rise, both consumers and operators see mobile operator self-regulation as the most effective means of combating mobile spam. Customer-initiated actions are perceived to be less effective.

Most complaints about mobile spam are directed toward the mobile operators. But many consumers resent mobile marketing messages from operators, which they see as part of the problem of mobile spam rather than the solution. Mobile spam generally has a negative impact on the brand of the mobile network operator.

Operators know this, but most are only in the early phases of testing technology to limit the circulation of SMS spam across their networks, according to the study. Cancellation of roaming agreements and customer complaint hotlines were the most frequently cited actions mobile operators currently take against spam.

Tom Phillips, Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSM Association, said "Whilst there is no single solution to the mobile spam problem, there are a number of key components to any real solution, including identifying the spammers by rejecting anonymous or spoofed access and making them pay through clear and suitable charging mechanisms."

The Insights into Mobile Spam study, which was supported by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was based on 1,659 completed consumer surveys and responses from 154 mobile service company participants. More survey findings will be released next week at the 3GSM conference in Cannes. ®

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