Tired of their kids’ $1200 cell phone bills, Congressmen stick it to mobile providers

I used to be anti-texting. Why send someone a poorly worded, 160-character-or-less message when you can call them (if it requires an immediate reply) or email them? Texting encourages bad grammar, is impersonal and can sometimes be downright annoying.

That quicky changed, however, once I began graduate school. For all intents and purposes, I was forced to get a texting plan on my phone after my new-found friends started texting me. A lot. It wasn’t a lot of texts compared to other people I know, but $0.10 per received or sent message adds up very quickly. My first month at Georgetown, I noticed my cell phone bill was $15 or so higher than normal, so I caved and got a 500 texts per month plan for $5. Even then, I was surprised at the priciness of texts, as I was pretty confident the transferral of such a tiny amount of data between phones was not costing the phone companies that much.

Since I’ve been on a texting plan ever since (and now on a data plan too with my Verizon Voyager — I’m so hip), I had no idea that rather than prices for texting decreasing, they have instead been increasing over the last year. The price of sending or texting now costs $0.20 per message on each of the four major carriers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile). I can only imagine the first billing cycle after the price increase in many an American home: parent opens phone bill, sees their 12-year-old has decided to become hyperactive with her texts at exactly the wrong moment, and now has to pay nearly $100 extra on the phone bill so her kid can engage in conversation via text with the person sitting next to them. What’s up with these kids anyway? Haven’t they heard of whispering? And what kinds of pressing secrets do 12-year-olds have anyway that need to be communicated via text?

Anyway, it seems that the ridiculosity of these increases has reached Congressional notice, and one Senator (hopefully) plans to do something about it. Herb Kohl (D-WI) has sent a letter to the presidents of the four majors, demanding an explanation for their outrageous texting prices.

Who knows if this discussion will actually lead to any pricing changes for the millions of texters in the U.S., but I must say I am looking forward to reading their lame attempts at justifying their pricing plans. It seems pretty obvious to me that these companies thought they could get away with jacking up prices because of the exponential increase in demand over a few short years, but they must have forgotten Moore’s Law along the way, which when applied to data technology, says it should be half as costly now than it was just two years ago.

Read the Ars Technica article here.


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