Top U.S. Carriers Ranked for Under-aged User Protection

DUBLIN, Ireland—Research and Markets, a Dublin-based market research resource, has announced the availability of a new report by JBB Research that ranks the top four U.S. carriers for under-aged user protection for mobile adult content.

According to Julien Blin, principal analyst and CEO of JBB Research, the U.S. mobile adult content market is poised to experience strong growth in the coming years, and U.S. carriers need to implement more robust parental controls and true age verification systems to help parents protect their children against mobile adult content.

The report predicts an exponential rise in mobile adult content given the increasing openness in mobile networks, the growing popularity of sexting and off-deck content, and the expected rise in all-inclusive data plans offered by the carriers. The research also shows that some U.S. carriers apparently do a better job than others in implementing solutions to protect under-aged users from mobile adult content.

Based on the best practices to protect under-aged users from mobile adult content, the top four U.S. carriers are ranked by the report as follows:

1. Verizon Wireless ranks first and has offerings that are very similar to that of AT&T, which ranks a close second. Like AT&T, Verizon Wireless offers parental controls for wireless, high-speed internet service, television and landline phone service. What sets Verizon apart is that it can monitor PSMS (short codes)—the special telephone numbers or short numbers used for value-added services, such as TV voting and ringtone purchases—and it also offers turn-by-turn directions on its LBS-based Family locator application.

2. AT&T, like Verizon Wireless, offers parental control tools for its wireless, high-speed internet service, television and landline phone service. The carrier is lacking in protection for PSMS (short codes), however, and because of this AT&T was ranked second.

3. Sprint Nextel was ranked third, based on its inability to monitor music containing explicit lyrics on its music and video service. Like AT&T, Sprint Nextel also does not offer filters for PSMS (short codes). However, Sprint Nextel offers various parental control tools. For instance, like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel offers an LBS-based Sprint Family Locator, which enables parents to use a phone or PC to locate a child on a map.

4. T-Mobile comes in last, as the depth and variety of tools it offers to help parents control and filter inappropriate content seems to be fairly limited, especially when compared with the other carriers. For instance, T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier who does not offer for the majority of its handsets a Family Locator, a LBS service, which enables parents to use a phone or PC to locate a child on a map. Of note, the carrier only offers such service on select devices (Android and BlackBerry devices) through the Android store and RIM store.

Other findings from the report include:

— 2009 is set to become the year when mobile adult content start gaining significant traction off deck. The emergence of small application developers focusing on mobile adult content for mobile app stores should remain a key driver.

— By 2013, mobile adult content users will be able to enjoy a full mobile web experience across various platforms (cell phone, PC, laptop, digital camera, set top box, video consoles, slingbox, etc), network types (e.g. 3G, LTE, WiMAX, WiFi, etc.), and business models (e.g. subscript-xion-based, ad-based revenue model, a-la-carte), and with the best QoS anytime anywhere.

— With the growing popularity of off-deck content, the growing adoption of mobile web, carriers' migration toward mobile advertising, and an open-network environment, it will become critical for carriers to offer more robust content filtering tools/parental control tools, and legitimate age verification systems.

— As smartphones become more advanced and affordable with advanced live video streaming capabilities, we expect to see the emergence of new types of mobile adult content services like mobile video chat. WiMax, WiFi and LTE are set to become key drivers here.

— As mobile advertising continue to gain momentum in the U.S., we expect to see the emergence of rich ad-funded or ad-supported mobile adult content services/content. This should help drive the price erosion, and drive the adoption of mobile adult content services.

The report, which is the first comprehensive look into the expected growth potential and associated actions by carriers to adult content in the United States, costs approximately $2,500 and is available for purchase here.

Companies mentioned in the report include AT&T, Verizon Wireless/Alltel, T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel, Virgin Mobile USA, Playboy, Twistbox Entertainment, Brickhouse Mobile, Digital Playground, Cherrysauce and Jamster.