Lookin at the Text Message Scam

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is asking the nation’s top four wireless carriers to justify the “sharply rising rates” they charge people to send and receive text messages.

In letters to top executives at Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile, Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl said Tuesday that he is concerned that rising text messaging rates reflect decreasing competition in the wireless business.

Kohl chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. His inquiry comes as European Commission regulators are threatening to impose a cap on roaming fees for text messages sent by Europeans traveling outside of their home nations, in an effort to force prices down by as much as 70 percent.

Kohl said he was concerned that consumers are paying more than 20 cents per message, up from 10 cents in 2005. This increase, he said, “does not appear to be justified by rising costs in delivering text messages,” which are small data files that are inexpensive for carriers to transmit.

The Associated Press: Senator examining rising text messaging rates.

Text messages are less than “inexpensive”.  I can’t imagime they take up much real bandwidth, being packet-driven and tiny.  The depth of the text message scam becomes clear when you wonder why phone calls on nights and weekends are free because of excess bandwidth…but text messages always cost the same.

It does not make sense.

What text messages really represent is what happens when a few guys (say, a foursome on a golf course) all simultaneously wonder about that age-old market-driven rhetorical question….”If only I had a dime every time someone…”

In this case the answer is “…when someone sends OR RECEIVES a text message.” (the second biggest part of the scam)

Hopefully we’ll see something come of this, but since the few national carriers all get along quite well, I don’t see the market resolving this without a little outside pressure.