Vodafone fights text bullying with Telsis

A system developed by UK company, Telsis, that enables phone users to block bullying text and picture messages, is winning plaudits following a world first deployment, with Vodafone in New Zealand.

Four weeks after Vodafone’s launch of Blacklist, the operator reported that more than 2,000 subscribers had signed up to the free service, and that complaints about text bullying had fallen from 500 a month to virtually zero.

The initiative has been welcomed by Parents Inc., a New Zealand non-for profit organisation whose work includes inspiring children to use communications technology in safety.

The organisation’s director Bruce Pilbrow says surveys suggest that as many as one in five school children receives nasty or threatening messages.

“Text bullying is often anonymous and crushes the confidence of the recipient, cruelly affecting their education and their general wellbeing. In extreme cases, we know it has led to children taking their own lives. That’s why we strongly back what Vodafone is doing. Blacklist takes power away from cowardly bullies and puts it back in the hands of the good guys.”

To block a malicious sender, the phone user simply texts the bully’s number to the Telsis system. From then on no further texts are delivered, yet the bully is unaware that their attacks are not getting through. The system works for all types of handset, and blocks up to 20 originating numbers per subscriber.

Vodafone New Zealand’s general manager of consumer marketing Kursten Shalfoon says that at the launch of the service he was greatly moved by talking to people with first-hand experience of the pain caused by text bullying. Among the attendees at the event, hosted jointly with Parents Inc., was Heather Powell whose son Michael, 15, took his own life. Powell told the media that Vodafone had kept in contact with her over the impending launch. She said Blacklist was a wonderful concept and well overdue.

Commented Shalfoon: “From a social responsibility perspective it is clear that we are really in tune with a prime concern shared throughout the nation. The Blacklist programme was driven by our CEO Russell Stanners, but there is great satisfaction among everyone here at Vodafone that our network can be a major force for good. From a commercial perspective too, the launch of Blacklist makes sense for us. We are the first in the world to deploy this system.

“Our competitor does not offer it and it has made us the preferred network in New Zealand for parents with kids. We are confident that we will see significant improvements in recruitment and retention as a result. The Telsis platform is very capable and we will be using it to further expand our parental control offering during the coming year.”

Telsis products and services are in use with major mobile and fixed network operators worldwide. Telsis is the global pioneer of architectural innovations for messaging networks that enable mobile operators to offer their customers a range of value added protection, personalisation and archive services. The company delivers high value mobile innovation in the service layer, providing text-based services that are easy to use, compelling, virally promoted, and available to all handsets and all users.

Telsis solutions also include SMS Routing and IN voice platforms, as well as NGN media gateways. http://www.telsis.com