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Why Is Texting So Expensive In The U.S.?

Text messaging in the U.S., which is more expensive than other countries, has recently gotten even more expensive, as each of the four major carriers in the U.S. (T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T) have doubled per-message rates since 2005. American consumers haven't seemed to mind, as SMS use has skyrocketed, but Kohl's, a big retailer, recently sent a letter to the heads of the big four asking to know why they raised per-message rates from 10 cents to 20 cents. Kohl's called the increase "particularly alarming" because there seemed to be no technical justification for it.

The big four replied to the letter over the holidays, saying that pay-per-use prices basically didn't matter because most Americans pay for unlimited text messaging as part of their voice plans. T-Mobile's argument was that, "average revenue per text message, which takes into account the revenue for all text messages, has declined by more than 50% since 2005." This may be because more users are signing up for unlimited SMS plans. Meanwhile, it's hard for carriers to address the actual costs texting incurs because these are few compared to voice calls or data transfers.

In any event, it's clear that the American public loves texting, as there are no signs of it slowing down. According to Gartner, a research firm, SMS messaging has increased 32% year over year and should continue to do so in 2009, despite the proliferation of smartphones that provide easy access to email.

Read the whole story at Ars Technica »

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