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The obvious truth about text messaging: you're getting ripped off

Darren Murph

C'mon folks, does it really take an in-depth research study to figure this one out? On the whole, per-use SMS rates have doubled from $0.10 to $0.20 in the span of three years, and carriers have shown no shame in pushing messaging packs (the "unlimited" one in particular) in an effort to snag more revenue per user. We already knew that Senator Herb Kohl was looking into the matter, and a new piece in The New York Times clearly explains just how lucrative these bite-sized messages are for carriers. We're told that most consumers simply assume that it's costing operators more each year as the volume of texts sent increases; according to University of Waterloo professor Srinivasan Keshav, "it doesn't cost the carrier much more to transmit a hundred million messages than a million." You see, SMS messages are elusively hidden within the so-called "control channel," which is space already reserved for the operation of the wireless network. So long as messages are kept concise (say, 160 characters or less), they can be sent without any real implication on the channel. Will this epiphany somehow change the way we're being gouged? Tough to say, but don't think for a second that carriers won't figure out another way to nickle-and-dime you if the hand is forced.

[Thanks, Jeevan]

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