The Internet Group (Ihug) is developing a spam filter for its customers who wish to use BellSouth's Internet Preview service.
Internet Preview allows users to divert Internet email to their GSM phones, which display the first 160 characters of each message. Unwanted email is more than the usual irritation, because customers pay BellSouth per message received.
Ihug director Tim Wood says the company is developing "a self-learning filter based on a word file system which will sieve mail and strip everything off and look for keywords, then assemble it again, and pass it onto the BellSouth network.
"We'll charge a fee for you to have the filtered version, and there will be a Website where you can set your preferences - to have priority mail from a certain address go straight through, for example."
Voyager has been running a similar email-to-phone service for about 300 customers with BellSouth since November, and Iprolink and ComNet have just launched Internet Preview for their own customers. Clear Net is thought to be considering the service.
BellSouth's Jason Foden says the other ISPs have not yet developed mail filtering like Ihug's.
"We have a firewall with the IP address of each ISP in it, so it can only come through one of those ISPs. That's not a huge barrier, but it's a barrier nonetheless," says Foden.
"The service is not good for customers who are receiving a lot of email. They get annoyed, and there's no filtering at our end. I can see the others moving towards what Ihug's doing, and BellSouth will do it one day too."
Ihug is also working on a feature which will allow users to automatically page BellSouth phones through a button on Websites it hosts.