Emerging TechnologyMobileWireless Directory Assistance on the Horizon

Wireless Directory Assistance on the Horizon

If only half of U.S. mobile phone users opt to have their numbers published, the result can generate billions of dollars in revenue.

Mobile phone users that have disconnected their landlines, along with those lulled into security by the “Do Not Call” list, may be the keys to an untapped revenue opportunity.

A report from The Pierz Group found that the addition of mobile numbers to the U.S. directory assistance/enquiry (DA/DQ) database could result in nearly $2 billion dollars by 2008 for telecommunications carriers and DA/DQ service providers, as long as a significant portion of users sign on.

“I am assuming that by 2008 between 50 percent and 60 percent [of mobile users] will list [their mobile phone numbers]. Based on my recently completed consumer research this is a very realistic number,” said Kathleen Pierz, managing partner, The Pierz Group.

Concerted efforts would have to be made to sway such a high percentage of mobile users into having their numbers published. Currently, a scant 3 percent of U.S. mobile phone numbers are listed, compared to 47 percent of fixed line subscribers.

The success of the “Do Not Call” list, where 62 million consumers registered phone numbers in its first year, should help allay the fears of having a published number. “Two years ago, telemarketing fear was the number one reason not to list a mobile numbers – 88 percent listed it as number one,” said Pierz. Today, Pierz says, people are most concerned about their overall privacy or avoiding calls from certain people.

According to the report, mobile users are becoming increasingly receptive to having their numbers in a DA/DQ. Just 2 percent of Americans were willing to have their numbers listed in July 2003, compared to more than fives times as many that were surveyed one year later.

Using only the privacy protections offered by the CTIA – the international association of the wireless industry – 11 percent expressed willingness to list their numbers. The CTIA wireless directory guidelines call for a free permission-based service that is only available by calling 411 for directory assistance.

Pierz says that an additional 25 percent of surveyed consumers were unsure about whether they would like their mobile numbers published, but Pierz was optimistic. “Those individuals will be very likely to sign up after a year or two,” she noted.

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