Much Ado About Nothing In Accusations Over Text Message Pricing

from the focus,-people,-focus dept

I'm hardly a mobile operator apologist, but the NY Times' Randall Stross is trying to make a pretty tiny molehill into a mountain by picking up on that old, dead story suggesting that mobile operators are somehow ripping users off with SMS text messaging pricing. As was noted when Senator Herb Kohl first tried to make an issue out of this, per message pricing is fairly meaningless, since most users of text messaging subscribe to bulk plans or even unlimited plans. Besides, if pricing really were a problem, then people wouldn't be text messaging so much. The fact that they're using it so much, suggests there really isn't that much of a problem with the pricing. Stross tries to focus on the actual "cost" to the carriers for sending a text message, which is tiny, but that, again, is rather meaningless. A year ago, Tom Lee pointed out just how silly such an argument is for text messaging. As mobile phones grow more and more sophisticated, if SMS pricing really is a problem, alternatives (such as mobile instant messaging) will grow as well, and SMS providers will need to adjust their pricing. If, however, consumers don't have a problem with the current system (and all indications are that they don't), then why is the NY Times even bothering?


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  1.  
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    Twinrova, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 4:46am

    The flip side.

    "If, however, consumers don't have a problem with the current system (and all indications are that they don't), then why is the NY Times even bothering?"

    You make it sound like the consumer has a choice.

    "Take plan A for $5/mo or plan B for .20/message."
    (hidden text: go over plan A and we'll fuck you over for .40/message)

    Wow, the "choice" is so obvious.

    Especially when people like me, who don't text, are forced into this $5/mo text plan because it's "attached" to the data plan and a text plan has to be chosen. How quaint "none" isn't a damn option.

    This molehill needs to be addressed. While they're at it, investigate those damn fees as well.

     

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    Roger, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:06am

    Let the market decide

    There's a bigger question here. What is holding the mobile Web back from mass adoption? Perhaps the ease and low cost of texting means that most users don't need or want email or Web access through mobile devices.

    Back to Mike's point, if there is a problem with pricing, there is enough competition that market forces will reduce prices to a point where companies will be vying for market share, and therefore be forced to trim margins as close as possible.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:08am

    Mike, I think the point is that the mobile sector is not a free market - if it was, the price of individual text messages would be driven down to its marginal cost by competition.

    As you point out, other technologies will make the issue irrelevant, but not without the mobile operators fighting it every step of the way, at our expense.

     

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    Matt (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:21am

    Re: The flip side.

    Yeah, I think Mike did indeed fail to mention that tying and other things are a bigger issue than the text message price. It would have been somewhat related to the article :)

    Meanwhile, SMS should be free. It's an old service and well overcharged on price. It's just the carriers don't want to be another step closer to dumb pipes. Same thing as how android is pushing phones so that the carriers become less relevant as the "mobile web" becomes more capable. Once 4G arrives, mobile carriers are going to be squealing quite a bit about the data plan usage and tethering, so that will be fun in its own way.

     

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    Neverhood, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:26am

    High prices?

    Usually prices are higher here in Europe, but I think .20$ sounds very expensive per SMS message.

    Here in Denmark the cheapest plans costs .02$ per message, or 15$ per month for unlimited SMS plans. And this is with no extra fees whatsoever.

    (Normal prices for calling is 0.19 cents per second, and no connection fee).

    It this really cheaper than in USA?

     

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    pcjunkie7, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    I don't want a text plan

    I don't want to have to pay an extra $5 or $10 a month for unlimited text because I rarely us it, but I also don't want to pay .15 per stupid message when someone sends me a text or when I send the occasional message. It should be at most .05 a message. I guess they want to force me to buy their stupid plan.

     

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    Paul, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:48am

    "since most users of text messaging subscribe to bulk plans or even unlimited plans"

    I think you miss part of the complaints with this statement...At 20 cents per message sent or received, it doesn't take much at all to get to the $5/month "bulk" plan. I rarely text at all and usually only if someone texts me first. Even so, at the current rates I am on the boarder of subscribing to the $5/month plan because the rates for individual messages is so high. That is what the carriers want, the guaranteed $5 more a month from people who rarely text at all so I think the complaints about individual messages rates are warranted.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:52am

    So, complaining about the difference between cost and price when it comes to text messaging is "making a mountain out of a molehill," but doing the same with music is a travesty of the free market that must result in the abolition of copyright?

     

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    Shahzeb Zaidi, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:54am

    Pakistan

    Hahaha .. u all r being ripped ... We in Pakistan Text for as low as .07 Pakistani Rupees ... thats equivalent to almost
    0.00089341 US$

    Thats WAAAAAAAYYYYY lower than ur prices ....

     

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    Robert, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 5:57am

    It's a tax

    I've got to disagree with this one. It's not that most users prefer to use text messaging, it's a tax.

    It's attached to many data plans (pay for it if you use it or not).

    It's also unable to be turned off on most phone plans. So if someone texts you, you pay regardless. Even spam. Yes you can can report the spam and they will refund you, but good luck getting through to someone at your phone company who is "authorized" to do that. Does anyone really think phone companies don't love spam?

    The excessive overage fees are insane. $0.40/message is just trouble.

    Then look at some of the newer phones that don't even have a UI for text message counts. You have to call a special number and get the total if your not keeping track yourself. The iPhone falls into this category. Of course this isn't an accidental oversight.

     

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    antagonist, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:04am

    Re: Pakistan

    No offence.. but you have to live in Pakistan to get those prices..

     

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    Michael Whitetail, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    Re: Re: Pakistan

    Fucking rofl!

    Anyways I do see Mikes point in-so-far-as its about choice. There are free alternatives like using the internet to send out texts (though that is just one way really, but it is an alternative) or for those with data plans, than mobile IMs work better in some cases.

    If you want the ability enough, you pay, same as any other service by any other provider. Its not forced on you unless you sign a contract with a tying clause, and even then, you willingly signed, so you weren't forced in that respect either. Your only hope there is that some state AG looking to make a name for himself takes on the big 4 for illegal tying agreements...

    You can do very well without SMS, I do even at Sprints .35$ a txt rate with no SMS package. I just tell people to not txt me, and suprise suprise, they call me instead ;)

     

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    GibsonAV, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    NY Times

    "...why is the NY Times even bothering..."

    I ask myself that question when ever anyone quotes one of their "news" stories.

     

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    :Lobo Santo, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    Re: Pakistan

    Wow dude! That's awesome!!
    Tell me, what's a REALLY REALLY fast internet connection cost there?

     

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    Blenster, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    Two Different Networks

    The truth behind TXT message delivery makes this egregious price gouging even more outrageous. To compare TXTing to voice/data isn't entirely correct; it's two different channels. Cell phone systems work with these two channels: a tiny channel that tracks the phones within range of the tower and a larger channel that provides voice and data bandwidth. TXT messages are sent on the tiny channel and are an extension of how the cell tower communicates with the phone so that you see that you have service, they see where you are, and you receive an alert if you have a voicemail. If you have ever received a voicemail without your phone ringing you have seen the voice/data channel on the tower being too full to "ring" your phone and deliver the call, but the tower can send the voicemail notification on the same channel the tower uses to say "Hey, where are you?" and receive "I'm right here!" queries. Someone figured out a clever way of passing on a tiny text message and TXTing was born. If a cell provider has enough channels to provide the phones within the tower's range with a "you have a signal" message it costs them nothing extra to send a TXT message as well. I doubt the cell providers want you to know that if they have enough capacity for their users to receive a signal that they also have enough capacity to send and receive TXT messages by virtue of the system's architecture.

    In short cell carriers are practicing egregious price gouging by taking advantage of a feature built-in to their existing services. The difference in equipment/bandwidth costs for them whether many or few users use TXT messaging is virtually nil, if any exists at all.

    All that being said, they've found a convenient way to charge circa $20 a month for something that costs them almost nothing extra, if anything, allowing for a huge profit margin. They'll do it until something forces them to stop.

     

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    Jack Sombra, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    "So if someone texts you, you pay regardless"
    Yet more evidence americans are getting ripped off.

    In most other countries you pay for outgoing only, voice and text. Only incoming you pay for is premium texting services like weather/stock updates, aka one where there is a 3rd party charging for the service. The whole US thing of charging the sender and receiver for same message/call would be viewed as double dipping and people would not stand for it

    If i was american would be more pissed about that than the actual cost of texting, deal with fact you are getting ripped off twice before you argue about the actual ripp off costs individually

     

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    Dana King, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Pricing

    Did you forget one important thing in your article. Most carriers in the USA are now upping the price per text to 20cents per message. This is insane.... Much ado about nothing... I say not. I have a 200 message plan and got caught in the mess of it when I went over and they raped me for an additional 40 dollars one month. Insane I tell you.

    The problem is why is the cost going up to 20 cents per message (in or out)why. And why is the overage cost going to 40 cents per message.

    Because of this, I have stopped texting due to being afraid of going over the limits... The 200 plan should really say. Plan on sending only 100 text messages with replies before we rape you.

    I would like to know why it is 2 cents per sms in europe. The technology is the same, so why are the costs so much higher in the USA.

    Hmmm... I smell greed at the base of it...

     

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    Nathar Leichoz, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 6:53am

    There's a reason.

    Uh... people subscribe to bulk plans or unlimited plans for a reason. Because it costs so much already just to send/receive even a few text messages.

    It's like saying kidnap and ransom is not a crime, because most of the time no one gets hurt, because most people choose to pay the ransom money anyway.

     

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    Bob, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:04am

    Texting

    Cellphone plans should be, and never will be, set up so that if you go over your plan they bump you to the next level plan instead of charging "per minute" or "per text" charges. It just makes sense to not piss off and overcharge your customers. They just don't want customers to have it both ways. They want you to buy the unlimited plan, and scare you into it by the "per" charges.

    The reason the congressman and the media is getting involved (I Hope) is because they feel that since there have been a rash of cellco mergers and then "per charges" doubled that there might be a connection. This is a good reason to investigate.

    But Mike is right, the fact that there is hardly any overhead on text messaging is not an argument against raising text rates. The only argument should be against punitive and vague voice and text contracts. Again how hard is it to set up a tiered plan instead of overage charges? 1-200 messages: $5, 201-500 another $5, 501 - 1000 another $5, 1001 - unlimited You've paid for it.

    Why make the overage charges punitive when this is your customer? If your unlimited plan is $15 for texting, make that the maximum that someone will pay, and do it on a tiered basis so that someone that doesn't text that much will not have to pay the full amount each month.

    I know the reason this isn't done. They became addicted to this revenue stream and they don't dare touch it now. Plus some would say it is not fair to people who automatically pay the unlimited fee each month, well no it may not be, but if the cellcos used a tiered method, the client could sign up for that plan instead.

    Quote: "If, however, consumers don't have a problem with the current system (and all indications are that they don't), then why is the NY Times even bothering?"

    I think all indications are that all the cell cos have the same punitive and deceptive contracts and we have problems with it but we don't complain because they are all the same and we are tired of complaining to deaf ears. So it is good that we all take another look at Cellular Billing practices.

     

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    Neverhood, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:05am

    High prices?

    My god... I didn't know that you in the US pays for messages both sent AND received. My quote of .02$ per message is only for sending messages, receiving is free of cause...

     

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    Chris Charabaruk (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    Try Canada...

    The situation in Canada is technologically similar, but we're simmering up here because the industry politics make things just so much more bitter.

    I don't care about paying $.10 to $.20 per text message, so much as I care about the services I use and like to stay connected to when I'm mobile can't stay connected to me. Because our telcos are billing both sides at near extortionary rates (causing Twitter to shut down outgoing SMS messages, and probably also keeping Brightkite from wanting to get an SMS gateway working for Canadians) and the fact that two of the three now charge for all incoming texts, even if they're spam, really just cuts open a wound and dumps a bag of road salt on it.

    It may be much ado about nothing in the States, where you actually have some semblance of competition in your mobile telco market, but here in Canada, we're getting straight-up fucked.

     

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    chris (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:33am

    Re: There's a reason.

    It's like saying kidnap and ransom is not a crime, because most of the time no one gets hurt, because most people choose to pay the ransom money anyway.

    a bulk or unlimited text plan is like paying protection money... you pay your attacker to not steal from you.

    paying the overage fee is like paying the ransom. you pay the attacker after they have stolen from you.

    it's like saying extortion is less criminal than kidnapping because people choose to pay in and not get hurt.

     

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    Chris Walker, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:34am

    Greed and Contracts

    The phone company's force you into contracts. good luck not being tied to a 2 year agreement unless you pay for the common 200-800$ retail price for phones today. Even then, if your not on contract, they charge you a higher monthly fee. and once your in the contract they give you horrible service and there is a clause that they can raise the prices at any time. I work at a motorcycle shop, I should start selling contracts to change peoples tires and then install bald tires and tell people too bad, your under contract. dont like your company your with, switch! Oh wait, they have ridiculous fees for cutting out of the "contract early" and even though legally if your not happy with them you can terminate the contract. They have a-lot of lawyers and they basically will harass you into paying those "Fees" unless you want to pay a lawyer to go against them over a meer 300-400$ Cell phone carriers are a prime example of greed and obstruction of our laws. I personally am not under contract, (well technically I am but with a 0$ termination fee.) I got lucky because my boss's husband was a big honcho at sprint. good luck to everyone else. this was sort of off subject, sorry. 4 years ago I paid 15$ for unlimited data/text/picture mail/video mail/internet/and 10$ worth of credit for downloads every month on my sprint phone. I cancelled my contract and went to a lower minute plan and axed the premium 15$ plan cause well, frankly i didn't use it. none of my friends and I text at the time. fast forward one year and I wanted to add the same plan, they didnt have it anymore, so I said okay, give me texting. 15$ a month for unlimited texting. another 15$ for data(includes picture messages-no video messages) doesnt give any credit or free downloads and the unlimited data is technically not unlimited. its a pure market based pricing, tons of people were using it so they charged more for it. supply and demand, but the main issue is that there is a nearly unlimited supply and high demand so It still shouldnt rise in price. Corporate greed. and the whole paying for incoming messages, dont even get me started. when I didnt have texting, sprint would send me a text, maybe only one or two a month but still, was the principle of the matter. had an irrate conversation with some people.

     

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    chris (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    Re:


    If i was american would be more pissed about that than the actual cost of texting, deal with fact you are getting ripped off twice before you argue about the actual ripp off costs individually


    i've got my torch and my pitchfork in hand and i'm heading to the AT&T building. BRB.

     

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    clusterfsck, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 7:41am

    It's a phone, dammit

    I know some people are addicted to it, but I have no need for texting. None. Zip. Nada. The fact that people would text me unbidden and force me to give an extra 20 cents to the carrier (40 if I wanted to say "don't do that!") jsut cheesed me off. If you want to contact me & I don't pick up the phone LEAVE A #$%ING VOICE MAIL!!!!!!!!

    I had to go through *major* hoops and at least 3 calls to "support" before Cingular (now AT&T) would even admit that I could turn off *all* texting and internet usage on all phones on my plan. It's a phone, goddammit! If I wanted to type messages I'd use a computer or I'd have a Crackberry. I don't. I have a t-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e. Don't even get me started on the camera or MP3 player that I don't want either.

    Now get off my lawn.

     

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    Yakko Warner, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    It is a mountain

    Ok, first off, the "everyone buys bulk plans anyway" argument is bunk, too, because those plans' prices go up as well. Back when text messages were only 10¢, I looked at the unlimited plan. It was $5/month. My text volume was low enough that it wasn't worth it. When it went up to 20¢, I decided to give the plans a second look. The $5 plan is now limited, with the unlimited plan much higher.

    And of course it's sent or received. So if I send my wife a text message on our shared voice plan, it's 40¢. If I send her a letter in the mail, it's 42¢. Something's seriously wrong with this picture. Yet if I call her using the telephone part of my cellular telephone, it uses part of our shared plan minutes, costing us nothing (at least until those allotted minutes are used up).

    Oh, and did I mention that we used to have an allotment of free messages per month? It was tiny, like 10 messages or so per month, but that has long since disappeared. Now I'm charged starting from the very first text message anyone sends me.

    And T-Mobile does not provide a way to disable text messaging to or from your phone. (Fortunately, they do allow you to disable the feature of being able to send you a text message via an internet email address. Doing that at least stopped the spam that we were paying for.)

     

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    mogilny, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    choice

    ha! It sounds like a lot of unhappy but paying customers. Telcos aren't going to stop taking huge profits if people are willing to pay for, if someone keeps giving me money, I wouldn't stop them. We bitching about telcos won't solve a thing, we should bitch to our gov't reps to enforce new rules and new competition standards.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Re:

    So, complaining about the difference between cost and price when it comes to text messaging is "making a mountain out of a molehill," but doing the same with music is a travesty of the free market that must result in the abolition of copyright?

    That's dead on. Pricing of text messages is indicative of collusion in the market. There's no rational explanation for prices to be so far out of whack with the marginal production cost, which is essentially zero.

     

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    periphera, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:05am

    Don't count on IM to save the day

    I agree with Mike's general point (as I see it at least) that the carriers are charging what the market will bear for SMS service, and so there's no problem. The volume of replies in this thread show that the market isn't happy about bearing it, but they still do. That's fair, but there's more at stake here than just people getting gouged.

    Mike says: "if SMS pricing really is a problem, alternatives (such as mobile instant messaging) will grow as well". Given that the carriers (who are raking in insane profits from SMS) control the ability for these alternatives to grow, I don't think that the future looks that rosy. Because of the ridiculous profit margins they're pulling in on SMS messages, the carriers will fight all the harder to block apps and technologies that "duplicate functionality". That's the more insidious danger.

     

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    Niles Gibbs, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    Re: Don't count on IM to save the day

    Mike says: "if SMS pricing really is a problem, alternatives (such as mobile instant messaging) will grow as well". Given that the carriers (who are raking in insane profits from SMS) control the ability for these alternatives to grow, I don't think that the future looks that rosy. Because of the ridiculous profit margins they're pulling in on SMS messages, the carriers will fight all the harder to block apps and technologies that "duplicate functionality". That's the more insidious danger. Exactly. IM apps have been on phones for years, but the carriers almost always charge per message like SMS so no one can take advantage of the "loophole". Unless you buy an obnoxiously priced unlimited data plan, of course.

     

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    hegemon13, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    Problem

    "As mobile phones grow more and more sophisticated, if SMS pricing really is a problem, alternatives (such as mobile instant messaging) will grow as well, and SMS providers will need to adjust their pricing."

    I wish you were right. Unfortunately, those alternatives already exist, and phone companies have already locked them out. On my phone, an "unlimited" data plan specifically excludes instant messaging. Any instant message is charged as "messaging" traffic, and it is charged as a text message. The only people who can get truly free instant messaging are those using PDAs with a full-fledged data plan that costs $20+/month. Even with that, I know that at least Verizon states in their contract that you aren't allowed to use the plan for IM. They can't really stop you, since IM apps are all over the place for Windows Mobile, but they can terminate your data plan if they do catch you. For a basic phone like mine, the apps have to come from the vendor, and the vendor charges any IM app traffic like a text message. Seems a bit like antitrust behavior to me.

     

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    overstressed admin, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    from the stepped-in-one-there dept.

    From the comments above, seems like you made a molehile out of a mountain. SMS should be dirt cheap considering the amount of bits sent/received compared to voice calls. Try $1.50 for unlimited, then I'll consider it 'reasonable'. Plus, the free market argument doesn't hold water - if I want to change any part of my plan I need to sign another extortion document, I mean contract.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:01am

    The real problem with SMS messages is for those of us who choose NOT to play the game. When some dumbass gets the number wrong and sends me a txt or worse a pic, it cost me $.25. And getting spammed can cost many dollars / month. I can chose to have all txt blocked, but then I'm cutting myself off from notification services like reverse 911, etc. In a perfectly regulated world, incoming would be free and only senders would pay.

     

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    neona, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:16am

    well, everyone knows the text pricing is ridiculous relative to actual cost. that should be obvious. It's simply that all providers charge a lot for it, so there is little choice for the consumer.
    What suprises me is that a smaller provider hasn't thought to try offering cheap or free texting either always or as part of a deal as a marketing gimmick. It would be ideal, since nothing is lost except potential profit, which would likely be compensated for by the onslaught of new customers they would be likely to get. I know i'd probably switch pretty fast, even if I had to pay full price for a phone or something. Especially in current economic times, i'm sure people would fell more secure just paying a bunch up front instead of adding extra weight to their monthly bills.

     

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    DB, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:17am

    The alternative

    It seems the issues are well-aired here: 2-way charging by the operators, inability to disable SMS for those that don't want it, indiscriminate price hikes etc.

    And consumers do express their disatisfaction with churn levels at 35%+ i.e. the operator replaces ALL of its current customers every 3 years. But, with the continued consolidation in the industry, the opportunity to enjoy genuine, competitive choice (as opposed to frying in the fat or leaping into the fire) effectively makes these operators a cartel.

    Having worked at a senior commercial level for an operator, the internal mantra was that there was no money to be made having consumers on the 'right' plans for them.

    So, if a reducing universe of operators run a cartel by offering near identical services, where will genuine competition emerge from? The only likely competitor is Wimax, especially when rolled out at metropolitan / area level. Even if a Wimax operator charges what your mobile operator will charge, the quality of service and flexibility will be a substantial step-up from your 2G / GPRS / 3G offerings.

    So there is some good news. However, watch for all those Wimax service providers getting snapped up by the mobile operators - even in this climate they have vast free cash from all of that SMS charging to afford such purchases. Oh, and a cartel to protect.

     

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    Jeff Rife, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re: High prices?

    Normal prices for calling is 0.19 cents per second

    If you meant 0.0019 Euro/second, then that's still 0.114 Euro/minute, and it's pretty expensive, even for a "pay as you go" plan. If you meant 0.19 Euro/second, then it's a complete rip-off.

    At 0.02 Euro per text message, that's a very good price, though, and only the very few would ever use enough to make an unlimited plan worthwhile.

     

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    Jeff Rife, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Re: I don't want a text plan

    Part of the problem is that in the US the carriers double dip.

    In Europe, it's rare to have a cell phone plan where you pay for receiving anything. In the US, you pay for sending and receiving.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:42am

    Re: It is a mountain

    So if I send my wife a text message on our shared voice plan, it's 40¢. If I send her a letter in the mail, it's 42¢. Something's seriously wrong with this picture. Yet if I call her using the telephone part of my cellular telephone, it uses part of our shared plan minutes, costing us nothing (at least until those allotted minutes are used up).

    It's worse than that, because unless you have a very odd cell carrier, calls to a phone on the "family plan" cost no minutes at all. In my case, any calls to anyone else with a Verizon cell phone cost no minutes to either one of us.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Jeff Rife, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Don't count on IM to save the day

    Although it isn't free, I don't think that $20/month is "obnoxious" for unlimited data.

    It would be stupid to pay that just for an SMS substitute, but even a little bit of web browsing will make that $20 worth while, just in time saved.

     

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  40.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    Mike, I think the point is that the mobile sector is not a free market - if it was, the price of individual text messages would be driven down to its marginal cost by competition.

    My point is that it will get there eventually. Price doesn't go to marginal cost immediately.

    As you point out, other technologies will make the issue irrelevant, but not without the mobile operators fighting it every step of the way, at our expense.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but I've got no problem using those alternatives on my phone for free.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 30th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    So, complaining about the difference between cost and price when it comes to text messaging is "making a mountain out of a molehill," but doing the same with music is a travesty of the free market that must result in the abolition of copyright?

    Uh, it's not "complaining about the difference between price and cost" but you knew that, right?

    The difference is that the *market* in the music world has shown that the price *is* falling to zero. That hasn't happened in the text messaging world yet. The point of my posts in discussing the music industry is that we're reaching that point and companies need to learn how to embrace it. When alternatives in the text messaging world start pushing the price down, the same will apply to mobile carriers who won't be able to get away with continuing to charge high prices.

    So, our views are entirely consistent, your confused statement notwithstanding.

    We have never said that anyone *should* charge the marginal cost, but are only noting that you need to understand that's where the market will eventually push your price if you are unable to continue to innovate and differentiate. Thus, it's in your best interest to figure out ways to take advantage of that.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Andy, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    The real problem

    The real problem I have with SMS isn't the price, as it is that they are double dipping, and that there is no easy way to block messages from someone you don't like.

    The real problem is spam.
    My wife gets spam SMS messages somehow, each one of which costs us .20 (we rarely text, and so don't have a plan), and there is no way to unsubscribe or block messages from these spammers without blocking all SMS messages.

    Because I can't refuse delivery, I don't feel that I should be charged just to receive something I don't want.
    It would be like the post office charging you the price of a stamp for each piece of mail that you receive, including the junk mail.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    SorryDude, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Re: Pakistan

    Yeah, but you have to live in Pakistan. On the balance we win.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Michael Langford, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    rip off artists

    Rogers bills incoming sms as well, and then sends you like 20 a week, which they bill you for. I threw my phone at the reps head at the rogers store.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    capitalismrules!, Dec 30th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    Choices

    Choices, my ass.

    kudos to:
    twinrova
    anonymous coward
    robert
    gibsonAV

    everyone else, if you really think it costs AT&T anything even close to a SINGLE PENNY to send those text messages. you have your head in your ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    jimbo, Dec 31st, 2008 @ 8:02am

    yeah, right

    assuming no "plan" text messages used to cost .02 for incoming and .10 for outgoing for verizon, now they are all .25. That does not consider the source, spam costs just as much as legitimate texts. Even the plans are just as bad, with "in network" and "out of network" messages, the basic plan costs $5 and unlimited costs $10. Needless to say it is all a big scam to gouge consumers that are using "family plans". I find it cheaper to text via email. This is a big issue because of the kids that primarily use the medium will pressure the parents that are stuck with the bills. It is cheaper than running over the voice "minutes" so text messaging has been adopted en masse as a good compromise, but there is absolutely no consumer choice involved.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 2nd, 2009 @ 3:41am

    There is NO competition with propritary equipment and Contracts

    The day when I can buy -any- mobile phone and use it on any wireless plan I own just by putting in my cryptographic information (without activating anything else) is the day that the data-terminal equipment will actually have competition.

    The day when that happens should also herald the coming of non-subsided contracts; where you buy only data-service.

    If there were that kind of real competition, the ability to change my plan monthly instead of every 2 years; to keep my hardware, contacts, and preferences on my terms; then I think we would see -real- competition.

    Plans might stop arbitrarily caring about what bits are being sent and instead care about the volume and class of service. Is that an interactive stream (low latency requirement)? Is it a bulk data stream (bandwidth over latency; lowest cost please.)? Is it non-interactive priority data (Make a slot and someone will use it; if only on business contracts)?

    No longer will there be a difference between voice data, text data, and web data. The provider will merely be a data-service connecting me to the Internet; optionally with filtration of incoming data (to prevent DoS attacks).

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    CB, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 2:10am

    Re: Pakistan

    but we don't have to live in Pakistan...lol

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Shahzeb Zaidi, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 11:32pm

    Re: Re: Pakistan

    Its abt 1800 Rs /month .... thats 1mb connection ..... Around 23-25 $ ... wat do u guyz have?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Shahzeb Zaidi, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re: Pakistan

    U mean living in Pakistan is bad? Hark ... u just believe the things which ur media shows u .... how naive can u be? ... U have to see to believe .... Just come here stay a few weeks, in say Karachi or Lahore, and I garantee that u will enjoy it ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Shahzeb Zaidi, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 11:50pm

    Re: Re: Pakistan

    U win??? hahaha ... u gotta be kidding me ...
    We can buy Windows XP orignal in 25 Rs while u hv to pay $392 to $518 and U win?
    We buy any Game or Movie DVD in 60 Rs (DVD Print Quality) While u hv to pay 10-20 $ and U win?
    the odds are on our side my frend ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Johan, Jul 10th, 2009 @ 9:57am

    Government Involvement?

    There seems to be some speculations that the government could help regulate this issue (http://www.mindreign.com/en/mindshare/Technology/SMS-Fat-Cats-Ripping-Us-Off/sl21528576bp309cpp10pn 1.html) I'm not so sure....And even then, internationally there will still issues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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