Text message pricing: Is Sen. Kohl fighting the wrong battle?

Summary:How much do you pay for a text message? In case you didn't know, the cost of a text message has doubled in the past few years - from 10 cents to 20 cents - and suddenly Sen.

How much do you pay for a text message? In case you didn't know, the cost of a text message has doubled in the past few years - from 10 cents to 20 cents - and suddenly Sen. Herb Kohl wants to know why. (Techmeme)

I specifically ask each of your companies to explain why text messaging rates have dramatically increased in recent years. Please explain the cost, technical, or any other factors that justify a 100% increase in the cost of text messaging from 2005 to 2008. Please also provide data on the utilization of text messaging during this time period. Please provide a comparison of prices charged for text messaging as compared to other services offered by your companies, such as prices per minute for voice calling, prices for sending e-mails, and prices charged for data services such as Internet access over wireless devices, from 2005 to the present. Finally, please state whether your text messaging pricing structure differs in any significant respect from the pricing of your three main competitors. Please provide this information no later than Monday, October 6, 2008.

These are legitimate questions and the wireless carriers should answer them. And I applaud the Senator for asking them. But I have to wonder - as the U.S. becomes more like a third-world country, instead of a world leader when it comes to things like broadband speeds and advancements in mobile technology - is the fight over text messaging prices really the right fight?

Maybe it is. I go out on a limb here and run the risk of being ridiculed because my perception might be warped. I pay a flat $30 extra every month for a plan that provides unlimited text messaging - as well as picture and video messaging - for all five phones on my family plan. With all of the SMS alerts I get throughout the day (I love the news headlines that come via Twitter), as well as all of the texting that my pre-teen kids do, I am sure that I come out ahead at the end of the month. But if not, oh well. It's $30 and I don't have to worry about watching the itemized charges.

Also see:  Richard Koman: Sen. to carriers: Why do text messages cost $1,300 per meg? 

When it comes to mobile technology, I'm more interested in the advancement of mobile technology - speeds, applications and services that make the mobile experience as welcoming as the desktop/laptop experience, devices that aren't tied to a single carrier (iPhone/AT&T, for example) and privacy on the mobile Web.  I'm not trying to downplay the investigation of the dollars and cents of SMS text messaging. I just can't help but yawn and wonder if there are bigger battles out there.

Your thoughts?

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Hardware

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