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Monday, December 29, 2008

Americans' cellphone texting costs

Both a US senator and a business professor writing about him in the New York Times found it a challenge recently to get to the bottom of cellphone texting's costs to customers vs. their costs to the cellphone carriers, given that the amount of texting Americans do has grown ten-fold in the past three years. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), chairman of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, was curious about why the cost of individual text messages (not unlimited plans) had doubled between 2005 and '08, and - when he asked the carriers - they spoke "at length about pricing plans without getting around to the costs of conveying text messages." Those costs did not go up anywhere near proportionately to the volume increase of text messages. The way the professor/commentator put it in the Times, "Customers with unlimited plans, like diners bringing a healthy appetite to an all-you-can-eat cafeteria, might think they’re getting the best out of the arrangement. But the carriers, unlike the cafeteria owners, can provide unlimited quantities of “food” at virtually no cost to themselves — so long as it is served in bite-sized portions [e.g., 160 characters per text]."

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Charles Batchelor said...

Anne-
Good post, yet I worry some readers might say the companies should be able to charge what they want and parents can decide if it's worth it to them or not.

And that is true, but the issue gets muddy, since these firms use the regulated, government-owned airwaves to do their business. And, yes, they pay dearly for the privilege, but is not a license to shake the public down for all they can get.

That said, the technology we carry around in our pocket or purse now is amazing, and it's getting better. Some "better" things are free and simple. For example, there is now a new free service that connects parents and their kids safely and easier via texting called WuduPlz.com.

It allows easier and faster texting when you're at your computer.

But, to make it more useful, WuduPlz.com can also deliver messages LATER to provide useful reminders. As Vanessa Van Petten noted, with WuduPlz, "each family member with a cellphone is carrying around a little alarm clock that Mom or Dad can set to go off with a little note. Very handy."

Since parents are paying the cellphone companies for the texting service, they should use WuduPlz to do to some parenting.

(BTW: Vanessa Van Petten of OnTeensToday.com also rated this blog as one of the best for parents. And she says in her praise that you need to call her for an interview.)

4:57 PM  

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