Everyone knows that heavy thumb tappers (like the Iowa girl who won $50,000 in a texting contest) need serious unlimited texting plans. But what about everyone else? You know, those who can't find package options between occasional messaging and a super-charged, heavy-load addiction? But light users beware: Eventually, it's inevitable that you?ll go over your allotment. And when you do, the shock could hit you hard ? in the wallet.
If you?re a moderate texter who has ever suddenly faced a surprise whopper of a cell bill, you might find the following interesting.
"TEXT"-BOOK CASE OF PRICE FIXING?
According to a recent report on CNN, all 4 major carriers ? Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon Wireless ? each doubled the price of their pay-per-use texting fees, from 10 cents in 2006 to 20 cents in 2008. According to other reports, it's even worse: from one to 25 cents within five years. Either way, the hike is huge, and exactly what's causing a senate judiciary committee to scrutinize the companies? activities.
The Senators Anti-Trust Sub-Committee is looking into the matter to see if there was collusion with the intent to fix prices. (I always wondered why texting fees were so expensive, especially since the data load on a given network is generally lighter than voice calls or certain other cellular activities.)
I?ll admit it: I got a certain sense of satisfaction watching this CNN video of the committee's recent hearing. After the 15 second ad, at about 1:11, Senator Herb Kohl got to grilling the carriers? lawyers, and the scene was priceless: ?Why did you each go up by the same amount? Why didn't you go up less than your competitor?? I would've totally savored that moment, that is, if the situation didn't drive me so nuts. (For a look at the vid, click here.) Of course, all the carriers flatly denied the accusations, though the investigation ? which started last September ? continues on.
CAN EXCLUSIVITY HARM CONSUMERS AND THE INDUSTRY?
In other news, four senators are urging the FCC to look into exclusivity deals between carriers and phone makers. The concern with deals like the iPhone/AT&T arrangement and BlackBerry Storm/Verizon lock is that they might be detrimental to consumers or stifle innovation.
The politicians sent a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Copps saying, ?We ask that you examine this issue carefully and act expeditiously should you find that exclusivity agreements unfairly restrict consumer choice or adversely affect competition in the commercial wireless marketplace.? A committee plans on holding hearings this week.
It's nice to see that our elected officials are taking action, at least when it comes to cell phone consumer protection. Now if only we could make more headway with healthcare, the credit implosion and real estate foreclosures, things would just be peachy.
[via CNN, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal]