The commission voted unanimously to begin soliciting public opinion about possible regulations. It expects to wrap up the work sometime in September, according to K. Dan Snowden, chief of the FCC's Consumer Information Bureau.
Unwanted e-mail to cell phones, smart phones and Internet-enabled personal digital assistants is now nowhere near theit is on personal computers, where 62 percent of all mail is unsolicited, estimates e-mail filter company BrightMail. But as Internet-enabled cell phones , regulators and lawmakers fear that the current controls used by cell phone service providers to limit spam will become less effective.
"We've seen what spam can do to PC world, nobody wants to see that happen to mobile phones," FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said.
Because cell phone service providers, spam sent to wireless devices poses a more tangible economic impact than PC spam, where e-mail is free. The potential for such an uncontrollable expense has played a role in keeping corporations and consumers from using wireless data service, analysts say.
The cell phone industry welcomes the inquiry, according to a spokesman at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. The CTIA spokesman added that most U.S. cell phones already use "smart filters" to limit the number of unsolicited e-mails a wireless device can receive.