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U.S. users to get papal advice via text messaging

NEW YORK-Wireless users in the United States can now sign up to receive messages with information gleaned from the teachings of Pope John Paul II through a new offering from wireless content company Acotel Group. The company said the service will initially be available through Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless, with additional carriers, including AT&T Wireless Services Inc., to follow.

Subscribers can sign up to the premium text messaging service and receive daily text alerts containing thoughts, prayers and guidance from the Pope’s teachings. To sign up, users can send a text message to 24444 with the message “pope on,” and will then receive a papal text message every day at noon Eastern Standard Time. Each message costs 30 cents to receive. To discontinue the service, users can send the message “pope off” to the same number.

Wireless messaging company Acotel said the service is currently available in the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland and Malta. Rome-based Acotel recently announced its U.S. business efforts.

Acotel’s offering comprises several new technologies in the U.S. market. First, the service runs on a common short code, 24444, which works through the common short code service that the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association launched last year. Further, the service includes a premium billing mechanism-bumping the price of the message up to 30 cents instead of the standard 2 cents to receive a message-a relatively new billing service in the United States.

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