Vancouver-based Telus says it has no plans to stop selling
pornographic photos and videos to its cellphone customers, despite
receiving more than 100 complaints since it started offering the adult
content last month.
Canada's second largest phone company is charging $3 to $4 per photo
Spokesman Jim Johanssen said Telus decided to start selling online
pornography after tracking a significant portion of customers who were
already using their phones to find adult material.
"We can't make adult content go away. It's on your TV, it's on your
home computer, it's now coming to your cellphones."
But he defends the new offerings, noting that Telus has put safeguards
in place to stop minors from viewing it, and to ensure that the
content is legal.
Despite that, Johanssen said, 135 customers have registered complaints
with the company.
Johanssen noted phone companies in Europe and Asia have been in the
business of selling it for a while, and the North American telecoms
have been lagging behind.
By one estimate, North American mobile phone users spent $400 million
US in 2005 to download pornography.
Copyright 2007, CBC News.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: So it has finally come to this point;
telcos now proudly selling what at one point most or all of them
roundly condemmed. Historical example: Early in the 20th century, the
federal agency in charge of telephone service (it was not the FCC
until that agency came in existence out of the Federal Radio
Commission a few years later) passed a very firm regulation against
using any sort of profanity (or cuss words' as they phrased it) over
telephone wires; not to other subscribers, and certainly not to
employees of the company. In 1921-22 the alphabetical phone directory
of the Chicago Telephone Company, the predecessor of Illinois Bell
Telephone Company, published an admonition to all customers on the
front cover of the phone book saying "Notice to Our Subscribers: The
company requests that subscribers not use profane language when
speaking to our operators. We ask that you address our operators in
the same courteous manner of speaking you would want them to use in
their responses to you. Would you want the operator to curse at you
when she reported the line is busy? She does not want to hear your
curses, either. Its not her fault. Please show courtesy and politeness
to our employees."
Apparently people would 'try all day' to get through to the train
depot or bus station information line, or some other very busy
service, and encounter constant busy reports from the operator. (It used
to be in those days instead of a buzzing tone, the operators would
recite 'the ly-un is busy' when it and all numbers in the hunt group
were in use) and people would ask on the phone 'give me the ##@%$# bus
station' or whoever. They would have been shocked however to hear the
always-polite operator respond with the same kind of curses to which
they had to listen, i.e. '&#@$$#! The ly-un is still busy! ##@$%!'
Then sometime in the 1960's more or less, regulations were loosened up
a lot; at least when there was no operator on the line involved. And
in the 1980's telco was sort of shocked to find out how much long
distance traffic during overnight hours was only phone-sex. And with
the advent of 900 and 976 numbers, phone-sex became a hot item. A
person in those days dialing 415-976-GAYS would be answered by a hot
sultry male voice telling them "you have connected to a very hot,
lively, adults only chat. Its just fifty cents per minute, billed to
your Pacific Telephone account. Have fun!" People would meet and
exchange comments on this 'bridge' and soon disconnect only to dial
the other party directly for anywhere from a few minutes up to several
hours of long distance chat. Those dynamics were not lost on AT&T.
Nor was the fact that on '976' calls the 'fifty cents per minute'
could easily be billed to the caller within in the same area code/LATA
but were impossible to bill to long distance callers; meaning Chicago
area gay guys would call the San Francisco 'bridge line' and the San
Francisco gay guys would call the equivilent Chicago 'bridge
line'. They were never going to meet in person anyway, only talk dirty
to each other, and toll charges were less expensive than the
bridge fee anyway, why not pay less expensive toll charges rather than
more expensive premium charges to be on the bridge? Same difference,
we get to chat about common interests. Telco, especially Ma and her
young'uns watched all that and learned lessons from it, and eventually
developed a major industry (by 1980-90 standards) out of phone-sex,
using 900-style numbers. I guess earlier telco had assumed all its
subscribers were prudes, just like Ma.
Do any readers recall the AT&T 'Reach Out and Touch Someone' ads of
the 1980-85 era? AT&T came up with a 'killer application' back then
involving phone sex and abitrage and poor backward countries which
were so far behind in their telecom accounts with AT&T they would
never get them all paid off, if they even tried which some of them
didn't. Telco said they would set up phone-sex systems in those
countries (i.e. Guyana) and advertise them to the proper sort of
audiences on a "its free, all you pay is toll" basis. There were lots
and lots of 900 services charging outrageously large sums of money to
people -- especially gay guys and/or other lonely souls -- for a
couple minutes of superfulous and idle -- but hot! -- chatter on sex
topics. AT&T said they would do the same thing; collect all the 'toll
charges' but not remit proportionatly to the other countries; instead
offsetting the debits from those places. Actually telco set up those
systems here in USA, but routed them over international lines at
international rates, which were still much cheaper than the premium
charges on 900 calls. You would dial a Guyana number, but reach a much
more elegant phone bridge/voicemail thing in Florida or California
somewhere, but _billed as an international call to Guyana_.
So in 1985, the first of AT&T's special ads began appearing in such
magazines as the Advocate, Windy City Times, and other gay
publications. Usually a full page picture ad, with outrageous and
usually lewdly dressed characters in 'slave' or 'master' outfits (or
something which gay people would recognize and possibly appreciate)
and the AT&T logo with their standard message "Reach Out and Touch a
New Friend, all you pay is toll" and an 011 number. They ran those ads
for six or eight months. Now, as technology improves, so does phone
sex :). We are a long way from the 1920's days and the Chicago
Telephone Company! PAT]