In a move that could open up an enormous new free porn franchise in America, US phone companies are to relax their strict regulation of mobile services. With revenue growth slowing down, phone companies and porn studios alike are looking for new ways to drive profits.

In Europe, regulations are fairly loose, allowing pretty much anyone to do anything with their mobile phone. This has led to a mobile porn industry worth £390m. That figure is set to rise to £753m by the year 2012, according to the tech-guessers at Juniper Research – a fact that has not gone unnoticed, it seems, across the pond.

Currently in the USA, things are much more stringent. Mobile networks have, on the whole, kept their distance from the porn industry. Presumably that’s to avoid offending parents of young children, religious groups and other would-be insulted people. But now that looks set to change.

These loosened regulations are of course coming into play at a time when technology is just about starting to get ready for such content. Mobile bandwidth is improving all the time, screen sizes are getting bigger and pixel-counts are increasing.

Free porn on your mobile?

"It will be impossible to stop the adult business exploitation of mobile entertainment," Gregory Piccionelli, a lawyer specialising in adult entertainment at law firm Piccionelli & Sarno, told Reuters.

Piccionelli says he thinks that mobile users in the US will soon be able to watch free porn on their handsets. And he even predicted this will lead to services offering to fix-up ‘sex with strangers’ dates.

When the internet was born, the porn industry was the first to profit. Thousands of porn sites sprung up from nowhere, offering erotic content for a monthly fee. But this business model has since faltered, with an equal number of ad-supported sites now offering the same services for free.

This means that porn barons need a new source of revenue. And those 200 million US mobile users are looking like a tempting target.

Of course the problem with this is that with the birth of 3G and built-in Wi-Fi, many phones have access to the full-blown internet. Meaning they can already receive free porn on their handsets.