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Parents demand mobile restrictions for kids

Operators shrug, say 'whatever'

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3GSM Parents are demanding more control over what their children are doing with their mobiles, but phone operators are lagging in providing such services.

Researchers for Comptel Corporation found 87 per cent of consumers believe parents should have more control over their child's mobile usage but only one in four operators believe their provisioning and order management systems can provide such control.

Comptel marketing director Olivier Suard told The Reg: "To be fair operators have the right idea, but their network guys tell them it will take a year to implement. Users want more control - it's almost like handing provisioning over to the users - and a reasonable proportion are prepared to pay."

Suard said operators need to recognise this as a revenue opportunity. He also said telecoms managers within companies are looking for similar improvements in controlling use of company phones.

With one in four UK children under 10 years old now owning a mobile, the demand for such controls is likely to increase. Even though 92 per cent of operators say demand for non-voice services is increasing, 64 per cent of them say their existing systems mean they can only make ad hoc changes to customer accounts. Forty per cent said their systems cannot react to such changes at all.

The study by Vanson Bourne talked to 25 mobile operators across Europe and 500 users.

However, one mobile company has stepped up to the mark with a handset designed specifically for kids. Omego's phone has no keyboard - numbers are programmed by parents via a website, and are defined as anytime, such as parents' numbers and chat, only accessible before and after the school day.

The company is hoping to launch the phone later this year with the support of operators and retailers.

Omego CEO Andrew White told The Reg: "Parents are worried about handing over a phone to their kids with no controls."

White believes the handset is more likely to succeed than a software solution because it needs less work from the operators. ®

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