STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Cyrus Farivar reports.
CYRUS FARIVAR: Estan Bond is a 22-year-old Web designer in Palo Alto, California. He and his friends text each other all the time. But some of his texts are spam, just like in his e-mail. It's starting to bug him.
ESTAN BOND: I mean, my phone is something that goes everywhere with me, so if someone sends me a text message I'm generally expecting it to be something that requires my attention. Like e-mail doesn't require my attention as much. So when I (unintelligible) oh wait, I've got a text message, and it interrupts whatever conversation I'm having, which it probably shouldn't.
FARIVAR: The thing with mobile span is that it feels more personal than e-mail spam. Estan Bond loves texting because it's a quick and easy way to communicate.
BOND: I'll open it up and it'll be like, oh great, it's spam on my phone. As if I didn't have to deal with enough of this on my e-mail. Now I have to deal with it on my phone as well.
FARIVAR: Mark Donovan analyses the mobile industry for M:Metrics.
MARK DONOVAN: In the month of January about 12 million people received a text message from a company they hadn't given permission for. That's double the number who had received such kind of mobile spam in the last 12 months. And it is something that is affecting maybe 12 million people now, but it's on the rise at a faster rate than mobile marketing with text message overall.
FARIVAR: You can also sign up for weather and news alerts from other Web sites. Analysts like Richi Jennings of Ferris Research note that while spam messages are expected to increase, they represent a relatively small percentage of texts.
RICHI JENNINGS: The sort of numbers we've been estimating for 2008 are something like one and a half billion messages, but that's over the whole year. And of course that's spread over the large number of cell phone subscribers in the U.S.
FARIVAR: 1.5 billion spam text messages sounds like a lot, but Jennings estimates that this represents less than 1 percent of all texts sent in the U.S. Most mobile phone companies filtered out spam. Sprint spokesperson Stephanie Walsh...
STEPHANIE WALSH: In an average 24-hour time period, literally millions of text messages are sent across our networks. And on average roughly more than 65 percent of the total number of text messages sent over the Sprint nationwide network are identified and blocked by our filters as spam.
FARIVAR: For NPR News, I'm Cyrus Farivar.
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