The success of the program will depend on the backing of mobile operators, according to Albert Lin, an analyst at American Technology Research Inc. They present the charges for these services on the monthly phone bill or take it out of prepaid accounts, so they have the greatest motivation to make sure customers don't feel cheated.
"If a customer calls and complains about a transaction, that transaction becomes a money loser," Lin said. He believes most carriers will use the guidelines, though it may take six months of implementation before consumers notice any changes.
On the other hand, by enforcing the guidelines, carriers could cool down the growth of certain ongoing programs, such as joke-of-the-day and daily weather report services. Forcing content providers to inform prospective subscribers of the real cost of their services could scare off some consumers, he said.
But whereas some content providers just want to make it easy for subscribers to sign up spontaneously, carriers are interested in the long-term health of the mobile data business, said Lin. This is the first meaningful step in the right direction, in his view.
"They need something that is enduring and is a healthy, growing market for new services," Lin said.