Cellphone bill on the rise? Check your SMS charges

If you've been paying attention to mobile carriers' SMS pricing lately (and something tells us you haven't) you'd be surprised to discover a fairly disturbing trend amongst providers: price hikes. Over the past year or so, nearly every major carrier in the US has raised their per-price cost of SMS messages, with Verizon and Sprint jacking up the fee from $0.15 to $0.20 a message, and AT&T and T-Mobile adding another nickel to their $0.10 charge. Of course, this trend of rising prices accompanies a major spike in the use of text messages amongst customers, with some surveys marking a 130-percent jump over SMS use since June 2006 -- and telcos are taking it to the bank. What's most insidious about the inflated costs is the fact that SMS data is particularly low-bandwidth, and analysts say that the price increases aren't related to higher operating costs -- these companies are simply gouging customers for a service which they have embraced. Companies say the hikes are meant to encourage customers to go for more expensive "bundles," though we're confident they won't mention it when your Mom uses more messages than her plan allows and unwittingly pays a few extra bucks on her bill -- that stuff adds up, you know?