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AT&T Kills $10 Texting Plan, Pushes $20 Plan

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the giving-thumb-customers-the-finger dept.

AT&T 348

Hugh Pickens writes "AT&T is scrapping its 1,000-texts-for-ten-bucks plan and replacing it with a plan that offers unlimited texts for $20. Users who don't want the unlimited plan can opt to pay 20 cents per text. Current AT&T subscribers are grandfathered in, so you can stick with whatever plan you selected when you signed your contract. 'The vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans and with text messaging growth stronger than ever, that number continues to climb among new customers,' says AT&T. The news has not been received warmly in the tech blogosphere. 'AT&T calls this "streamlining." We call it what it is: an outrageous, gigantic scam,' writes Sam Biddle in Gizmodo. 'AT&T's taken away new customers' option to spend less, whereas carriers like Verizon still offer tiered texting plans for varying budgets.'"

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First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143626)

This post is first!

First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143632)

First!

It's the market (2)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 3 years ago | (#37143638)

They'll charge whatever the market will bear. Luckily for them, they partially control the market too. Imagine what the market would bear if they acquired Verizon as well...

Re:It's the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143672)

Buy Sprint stock!

Re:It's the market (4, Insightful)

mangino (1588) | about 3 years ago | (#37143800)

That would be true if there was a well functioning market. A market of essentially two companies armed with contracts does not make for a well functioning market. It would be better to say:

They extract monopoly profits because they can.

Re:It's the market (0)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 years ago | (#37143994)

...because the Bush Administration let them buy up their competitors.

Re:It's the market (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 3 years ago | (#37143890)

I remember when I got my first 2-way SMS phone, it was only 2 cents to receive and 10 cents to send a message, most providers used to have no fee to receive SMS messages including on prepaid plans (T-Mobile). Now its 20 cents to send and receive.

Re:It's the market (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#37143956)

AT&T also just announced that they will begin throttling mobile users on Oct. 1 who use some unspecified amount of bandwidth per month, until the next month's billing cycle begins - even if they are on one of the old (grandfathered) unlimited plans.

Until customers punish them with defection, AT&T will continue to do whatever they can to provide less for the same price, or a higher price, to make up for their lack of foresight in developing their data network.

Re:It's the market (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 3 years ago | (#37144128)

How can we punish them with defection when we are stuck with contracts where they can punish us for such a move?

Every other country (ok most) outlaw abusive contracts. They are monopolists so you do not have a choice and they take advantage of it. We are 3rd world in terms of what we get for our prices. Even Africa has better bandwitdth and usage. We are a joke thanks to these clowns.

If a republican gets elected as a president next year I would say very likely, you can bet this will continue or get much worse over 4 years. I imagine in 10 years from now we will pay $500 for internet and phone and it will cost as much as a new car lease. This has got to stop somehow as with medical care it is unsustainable.

If far right wing and Austrain economics were not so prevaliant today, we would trust bust the drug companies, insurance companies, and telecoms to more affordable levels. However in this political climate and voters watching American Idol this is not going to happen anytime soon.

The new Swoopoo Texting plan (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 3 years ago | (#37144070)

Under the my new plan for texting, each text costs only 1 penny and you don't have to pay that till your conversation with a friend is finished. moreover only the person that sends the second to last text has to pay. As long as you are the last person to send a text withing 15 seconds of the previous one you don't pay!

Texting prices are a total rip off. it costs at&t almost zip to do this, so I figure why not make it as big a scam as humanly possible?

moreover if you have a data plan texting ought to be free.

Re:The new Swoopoo Texting plan (3, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | about 3 years ago | (#37144124)

I have another texting plan called "party line". This is texting group that is open to everyone to join. each text you post costs 1$. the person that posts the very last text (15 second closeout window) get $1000 cash!

Re:The new Swoopoo Texting plan (1)

pnewhook (788591) | about 3 years ago | (#37144186)

I have unlimited send and receive texting messaging and chat on my blackberry..

Re:It's the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144192)

The ONLY reason I have a text plan is for the alarms and notices I get from my servers. The company pays for it. If I had my choice I wouldn't HAVE text messaging.

I guess Apple loves this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143652)

iMessage ftw!

SMS sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143666)

SMS sucks. Let them raise the prices, and soon we will move to competing technologies (email, instant messaging).

Re:SMS sucks (1)

janeuner (815461) | about 3 years ago | (#37143794)

I agreed with this in 1996. Now I just think that anyone that pays any price for SMS is retarded.

Whining Little Bitches (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143676)

If you don't like it, don't buy it or better yet, take your business to Verizon. Simple as that.

It's sickening to read all the self-entitled bitching that's been going on about this change. Everyone knows text messages are a huge money maker, and I applaud every company's decision to milk it for all its worth.

Re:Whining Little Bitches (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37143712)

and yet the same people don't think twice about buying a $700 phone where apple's profit margins border on ridiculous

Re:Whining Little Bitches (0)

Kielistic (1273232) | about 3 years ago | (#37143744)

In other words: shut up and take it. And if you insist on not taking it then do so silently. Can't have lowly people talking about scummy business practices interfering with the corporate marketing machine!

Re:Whining Little Bitches (2)

ffejie (779512) | about 3 years ago | (#37143828)

shut up and take it.

No, the parent gave you an option - move your business to another carrier. You have at least 2 other choices (Sprint, Verizon Wireless) and in some cases many more (Metro PCS, TracFone, U.S. Cellular, Cricket). What's so hard about switching carriers again?

Re:Whining Little Bitches (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143926)

"Choices".

Re:Whining Little Bitches (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 years ago | (#37144054)

shut up and take it.

No, the parent gave you an option - move your business to another carrier. You have at least 2 other choices (Sprint, Verizon Wireless) and in some cases many more (Metro PCS, TracFone, U.S. Cellular, Cricket). What's so hard about switching carriers again?

What's hard is that they ALL abuse text messaging fees, every last one. AT&T was on the fence with a 1000 messages for 10 dollars plan, but they fell to the dark side with this move. No carrier is any better at this, except the MVNOs, but they offer the absolute worst customer service and overall feature set, so basically the options for texting are indeed "shut up and take it, or just don't text".

Re:Whining Little Bitches (1)

eqisow (877574) | about 3 years ago | (#37144166)

T-Mobile is 9.99 for unlimited texts... you know, for now.

Re:Whining Little Bitches (3, Insightful)

Kielistic (1273232) | about 3 years ago | (#37144064)

Lack of carriers makes switching difficult at times. If there is only a couple and all of them are assholes on some level. The title was also "Whining Little Bitches" indicating the GP believes they should not be voicing their opinions. What's so hard about having people express their dislike for a company's actions? Why are people "bitches" for calling out a company's bullshit actions? People have every right, and the obligation, to point out companies acting in bad faith. They do not have to silently take it or hope that they can move on to an alternative.

Re:Whining Little Bitches (1)

s73v3r (963317) | about 3 years ago | (#37144152)

Buying a new phone? Switching all your accounts over? Imagine if you had a family plan: Now you'd have to move every one on that plan over to the new carrier, and buy phones for all of them. Not exactly cheap.

And remember, this is just for new customers. Meaning that existing customers don't have a large incentive to switch, as they are largely unaffected. So you're asking a bunch of people who really don't have a reason to, to go through a large hassle in order to prove some point to a giant, monolithic company who's probably not going to notice them anyway.

Re:Whining Little Bitches (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 3 years ago | (#37144242)

So I'm supposed to incur a $300 fee for breaking my contract to save less than 10 dollars a month which over the life of my new contract is going to save me less than the price of breaking my contract? Brilliant logic!

Re:Whining Little Bitches (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 years ago | (#37143996)

Verizon is just as bad, make no mistake about it. Despite the claim that "verizon's tiered pricing is better" on verizon you have the option of buying 250 messages for $5 (a good deal, sure) or buying 5000 messages for $20 (overkill in the extreme) and then theres the "unlimited texting" option, which on a family play you can only purchase for *all* the phones even if someone in your family (cough, oldpeople) never ever send a single text...

So yes, ATT just got a little less attractive in my book, but they are still a far stretch beyond Verizon when it comes to plan pricing options.

just sign up with a competitor (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37143682)

virgin has android phones with totally unlimited plans. and their android phones are only $149

oh wait, someone with an IQ that is higher than everyone here combined has figured out that if you sell a crappy and slow phone it will limit total data usage and that's why they can sell unlimited. or that the usual whiners don't want to pay $700 for a cell phone and then complain why the carriers are charging so much money.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143760)

Virgin's coverage is pathetic. Next.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | about 3 years ago | (#37143814)

It's Sprint's network, which roams onto the Verizon network. As a subscriber, I can tell you there's few places I can't get data from.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (2)

froggymana (1896008) | about 3 years ago | (#37144234)

Yes, but Virgin doesn't roam onto Verizon's network. There are many places where you won't get service.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143846)

Depends where you are - around me, there are a lot of Sprint towers, so Virgin is perfect for me. And I haven't had any real issues when traveling on the east coast. Certainly in the boonies Verizon is better, but if I'm in the boonies I'm chillaxin' and not sweating the phone. YMMV.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143922)

I disagree. Verizon has zero coverage at my house, whereas Virgin works. I pay $25 (soon to be $35) for 300 minutes + unlimited texting and data. Best of all: no contract. Like any other carrier, there may be significant dead spots that make it a deal-breaker for some individuals. Not a problem in my case.

For just about any contract that you can find, there is a better non-contract deal to be had. Contracts are for fools.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (1)

kingbilly (993754) | about 3 years ago | (#37143954)

I make up the difference with Google Voice and a free android app called GrooveIP. This allows me to make calls in my own home where reception is weak using my own wireless network. Otherwise you can't beat the deal:

- Android phone, unsubsidized @ $150.00 (LG Optimus V)
- Plans starting at $25.00/mo for 300 minutes, unlimited text and data
- No need to review your bill.. it is ALWAYS $25.00
- Make up for the low minutes with Google Voice
- No contracts


I've been with VM since 2007 after being tired of high text surcharges, penalties for adjusting plans as family needs changes, and the third-world status AT&T gave to us recently acquired Cingular customers. Couldn't be happier, I really feel like those relaxed stock photo men with their feet on a desk whenever I hear co-workers complaining about bills, service, cancellation fees, unknown text usage, etc.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143940)

virgin has android phones with totally unlimited plans. and their android phones are only $149

oh wait, someone with an IQ that is higher than everyone here combined has figured out that if you sell a crappy and slow phone it will limit total data usage and that's why they can sell unlimited. or that the usual whiners don't want to pay $700 for a cell phone and then complain why the carriers are charging so much money.

I have had an android on virgin mobile for a while. It is a great phone and I've never had any problems with coverage.

Re:just sign up with a competitor (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#37144046)

There's more to it than just that. I had a co-worker who absolutely hated what AT&T has been doing... stomping around furiously. Why didn't he just change? "Friends and Family" plans... that and coupled with the fact that some friends and family don't have other options where some of them live.

It's never quite as simple unless you're a hermit or a selfish/self-centered person.

In any case, my T-Mobile plan beats anything AT&T offers on every detail and strangely, I have not seen any mysterious charges on my bill... ever. Also, I was on T-Mobile with friends and family one of my brothers thought he was being screwed by them somehow and went with AT&T and shortly after got the first iPhone. ("It does everything I could want a phone to do! It's the perfect phone!" he said... heh... he keeps buying iGadget after iGadget too... oh well)

I'll miss T-Mobile... Despite the "smoking gun" which proves AT&T has lied to government and investors, no action will be taken to stop them from buying T-Mobile. As we will see, lawmakers and government will ignore their own laws, policies and procedures to enable this to happen. And every time we hear things about how important law is and how no one is above the law, we will have this (among many other things) in our recent memory to remind us it's just not true.

I forget: is tiering good or evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143684)

'The vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans and with text messaging growth stronger than ever, that number continues to climb among new customers,' says AT&T.

%s/text messaging/mobile data/g

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143756)

This was my thought. This same crowd hates the fact that everyone is moving to tiered data pricing models. Wouldn't you rather just pay for what you use? Not this crowd, since they tend to use more than the average person. Guess what--unlimited costs more. Be careful what you wish for.

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (1)

janeuner (815461) | about 3 years ago | (#37143900)

Guess what--unlimited SMS costs nothing.

Also, teired data is a far superior model. However, I wish they had a 2G-only teir for email.

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (1)

ffejie (779512) | about 3 years ago | (#37143978)

Right on. I wish they had 2G only modes for my phone to save on battery. When I'm not browsing or watching video - what do I need 3G (or 4G) for?

It's like that stupid "Flash Mob" AT&T commercial. [youtube.com] It's not like 4G actually gets the messages to me faster, the latency is probably about the same. Most importantly, the latency from the vibration of my phone, to me getting my phone out of my pocket, unlocking it, etc. - that latency is significantly longer than anything experienced on 2G or 3G. When my phone is in "passive" mode, it makes perfect sense to not be on 4G (or 3G). I'm way off-topic now.

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (1)

Bagels (676159) | about 3 years ago | (#37143910)

The bit that complicates it for me in this case is that this is knowing that I'm paying $20 to piggy-back on packets that are already being sent constantly anyhow. There's no incremental bandwidth usage and no real infrastructure cost associated - charging for texting is close to pure profit.

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 years ago | (#37144150)

The bit that complicates it for me in this case is that this is knowing that I'm paying $20 to piggy-back on packets that are already being sent constantly anyhow. There's no incremental bandwidth usage and no real infrastructure cost associated - charging for texting is close to pure profit.

Actually, there is. It's one of the reasons why the iPhone on AT&T nearly took out AT&T's network. Yes, the AT&T network was nearly disabled because the control channel was too busy (there were plenty of voice/data channels to go around).

The bandwidth of the control channel is shared by everyone, and because it's a control channel, everything is coordinated through it. Making a call? The phone asks for two voice channels through the control channel. Ditto for incoming calls - the cells set up a pair of channels and announce the call over the control channel. Ditto to set up and tear down data connections (which can re-use voice channels).

Problem was, the iPhone was VERY aggressive. Maybe too aggressive - it would request a data channel, then tear it down the instant it went idle. This caused excess control channel traffic (but was good for battery life - holding idle data connections open costs battery).

Toss in many iPhone users, many text users, and heavy calling and the control channel can get congested way before capacity. And this leads to slow network data (it can take forever to set up a channel), dropped calls (if the control channel is full, it's hard for the radio to perform handoff), and other issues.

Europe and Asia didn't suffer because texting was so common that carriers migrated to variable-bandwidth control channels - the control channel bandwidth could expand with need.

T-mobile suffered a similar issue with an IM app - I guess the interaction between the IM app and Android's network handling starting causing the same problems.

That's the technical side, anyhow. But the practical side - texts, like gas, are products sold at market rates - what the market will pay, which have little to do with the real cost of providing the service. And people have said they'd pay heavily for texting.

Re:I forget: is tiering good or evil? (1)

s73v3r (963317) | about 3 years ago | (#37144238)

Wouldn't you rather just pay for what you use?

Considering that they're charging more for their limited "pay for what you use" plans than for the unlimited ones, no.

Should help kill SMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143692)

Paying even a cent for 140 bytes means you're being fleeced. Use the internet instead.

640...text messages (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143696)

Yes, because 640 text messages is Enough For Anyone

Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143710)

For $20.00, that would require approximately 1.21 giga-texts to use up about 35 cents worth of bandwidth - so roughly 69.141 giga-text messages... happy sore-thumbing...

In other words - unlimited texting should be FREE.
Unlimited data should be about $10.00 a month, this would include unlimited calling as calling is just data.

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 3 years ago | (#37143804)

Calling is not just data. It does not use the same system (note that often times you can make calls but don't have a data connection) (text messages also do not go through the data connection. You can often text even when you don't have a data connection).

I guarantee you that it costs carriers much more than $10/month/subscriber to transfer their data. There is a very expensive infrastructure involved, using a lot of electricity. Wired bandwidth is the least of their worries as far as cost goes.

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (1)

spudthepotatofreak (649917) | about 3 years ago | (#37143892)

You work from AT&T right?

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 3 years ago | (#37144158)

Why would you think that? The guy who posted above me seems to believe that their only cost is wired bandwidth, and that $10/month should cover unlimited data. No, I don't work for AT&T, or any telco.

Their profit margins aren't as big as you think. They may overcharge for texting, but so what? They aren't making some ridiculous amount of money off of everyone like Apple does. If they cut their prices in half (the minimum cut it seems the masses believe is fair), they would go out of business. AT&T's net profit margin (as a company) is generally around 10 to 15% (I don't know what it specifically is for wireless, but it isn't 300%, as the OP seems to believe). They aren't screwing you over as much as you want to believe. Nor are the oil companies. Look at Exxon's profit margins.

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (3)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | about 3 years ago | (#37143948)

The marginal cost of texting is next to nothing. Texts get sent over the control channel. Regardless of texting, the control channel is needed for making calls, and it's mostly wasted bandwidth the rest of the time. Text messaging rates are highway robbery. That they cost anything is a product of our lovely cellular service industry.

But don't worry, once AT&T and T-Mobile merge, they won't waste so much money on redundant overhead, so they'll be able to make texting free with the savings. Right? Right?

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (3, Informative)

ffejie (779512) | about 3 years ago | (#37143894)

Do you think that companies charge you what things cost to make? Do you think that it costs Fiji Water twice as much as Aquafina to bottle H2O? Newsflash: businesses charge on value, derived from what people are willing to pay, not based on what it costs them to produce such items. In cases of price gouging, competitors come into the market and undercut the original producer. In the case of Mobile Wireless, apparently it's a little bit trickier to upend the market, due to the massive capital infusion it would require to build out a national network.

Re:Since text messages cost sooooo much to carry (1)

Dracos (107777) | about 3 years ago | (#37143950)

Remember that SMS rides on an allocated but otherwise unused slice of spectrum (I forget the details), so this is pure profit for them.

Stop with the FUD (4, Funny)

WankersRevenge (452399) | about 3 years ago | (#37144008)

Jeez ... I'm tired of reading comments from people who have no clue how the system actually works. If you did, you'd realize how AT&T actually loses money per text.

Here's the breakdown ...

You send a text message which transmits the data in digital format (ones and zeros, to the layman). The message is received in a central building where the message is repeated by flashing lightbulbs. One pulse for zero. Two pulses for one. Workers transcribe the texts then pass them off to their editorial department who double checks the transcription. Then it's passed to another department (whom I'm not at liberty say who or what it does*cough*NSA*cough) before it is passed to the encoding department where workers hand encode the messages into paper rolls that are fed into the central dispatch unit to where it is communicated to your phone.

And you complain that it costs twenty bucks a month? .

Hmm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143766)

Was it CDMA or GSM that simply inserted SMS messages in their status update packets, essentially making the data transmission free for carriers?

Re:Hmm... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 3 years ago | (#37143876)

GSM. Texts are 99.997% profit for carriers that use GSM.

Tracfone (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 3 years ago | (#37143806)

This is why I stick with Tracfone... I typically use 150-180 minutes per month, including 20-30 text messages (sending and receiving). I'd love to go with Verizon, as they're the only carrier with coverage in most of NY and would settle for ATT... except NONE of the major carriers offer plans that wouldn't be a huge waste of money to me. Even their pre-paid plans are considerably more expensive than Tracfone (I pay about 7 cents per minute, sending or receiving a text counts as 0.3 minutes).

Re:Tracfone (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | about 3 years ago | (#37143886)

Tracfone is great as long as you don't need 3G (which I don't). I text and talk all I want to, and my total monthly bill is around $15. They even have QWERTY keyboard and touchscreen phones, and they have coverage EVERYWHERE.

Tracfone is not for everybody, but it at least illustrates the absurdity of 20-cent texts!

iMessage, or whatever it's called (4, Interesting)

medcalf (68293) | about 3 years ago | (#37143812)

Since Apple is introducing technology in iOS 5 for an SMS-like service among all iPhones and other iOS devices (and iChat, too, IIRC), AT&T's SMS revenue is about to plummet. And that's one of the easiest ways AT&T has to up the dollars per customer metric. (How many people use tethering? Probably very few.) So AT&T sees this, no doubt, as a way to keep their SMS revenues up. Everyone else will see it as a reason to dump SMS altogether and use an IP-based rather than cell-based messaging service. Now if only Apple and Google could agree on interoperable protocols for stuff like this....

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143884)

SMS like service that is IP based? You mean. . . email?

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 3 years ago | (#37143930)

No, something that is Apple-exclusive that leaves people without iPhones unable to communicate with iPhone users without using (rape-worthy) text messages.

Remember that Apple loves proprietary things. FaceTime, dock connector, this service...

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144090)

So like BlackBerry Messenger then.

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143946)

Now if only Apple and Google could agree on interoperable protocols for stuff like this....

There's an iRFC for that

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (1)

StormReaver (59959) | about 3 years ago | (#37144118)

Everyone else will see it as a reason to dump SMS altogether and use an IP-based rather than cell-based messaging service.

I'd be all for that if not for one little problem: if you don't use the cell towers, and you're not near an open WiFi hotspot, how are you supposed to send your Internet based text messages? The software for sending text messages via IP is a trivial issue. The problem is Internet connectivity without cell service.

Re:iMessage, or whatever it's called (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144164)

Google does one better: Rather than introducing yet another proprietary system to like Apple that further walls off their garden, with Google Voice you can get actual SMS that is delivered over the data connection. Poof, unlimited SMS, full interoperability with all existing phones, for essentially free (a tiny slice of your data budget.) And it's available now, without

So the question is (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 3 years ago | (#37143834)

Why is this more outrageous than offering only unlimited internet access, instead of tiered with data caps?

Re:So the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144062)

Because at the rate they charge for data, assuming all text messages are the maximum possible length, the bandwidth used to transfer the messages costs $0.01 per 5,000 messages, which is 10,000,000 messages to equal $20, at $0.20 for each message out of plan, they're charging 1,000,000,000 times what the bandwidth costs are for them. Something that no free market would allow if there was competition.

I got this information from Gizmodo [gizmodo.com]

Re:So the question is (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | about 3 years ago | (#37144162)

Because the marginal cost of transmitting a text message is, within measurement error, zero.

Perfectly reasonable... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143838)

I'm sure 20 cents a text is a great value. It certainly costs a lot to support that much infrastructure to send a few bytes of data. I hope they are able to merge with T-mobile, I'm sure it will be great for consumers.

Re:Perfectly reasonable... (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about 3 years ago | (#37144058)

are you kidding? ATT and Apple are the root of all Evil in the world. I am sure if ATT did get T-mobile you'd be paying more in the long run. less competition of lower prices meas they can charge more with out worry of lossing cutomers.

Facebook messenger to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143862)

This sounds like the last gasps of a dying revenue stream. Both the google+ and facebook messenger phone apps have great alternatives to text messaging, including group chat features, and they're only as expensive as the data plan you already have.
-www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Circular logic FTW (2)

Alyred (667815) | about 3 years ago | (#37143872)

'The vast majority of our messaging customers prefer unlimited plans and with text messaging growth stronger than ever, that number continues to climb among new customers,' says AT&T.

Well, yeah... if their only choices are unlimited or nothing...

How is text messages different than data ??????? (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 3 years ago | (#37143888)

If someone has a data plan for $30 that is used to get data from the internet, from your computer via wifi(or tethering)..etc etc....how in the hell is this different than a text message...or better yet i would assume that this is WAY more expensive than sending a measly text message. I want to know how they continually get away with this disregarding the fact that customers have not woken up to this. The FCC, congress someone needs to pry deep to find out why we are paying $30 a month for data then pay $20 a month for a different type of data. Data is data.

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 3 years ago | (#37143970)

If someone has a data plan for $30 that is used to get data from the internet, from your computer via wifi(or tethering)..etc etc....how in the hell is this different than a text message...

It isn't fundamentally, from a user-experience perspective, for smartphones: in fact, if you have a smartphone, there's any number of apps and services that will let you use the data connection to send and receive text messages for free [including sending to and receiving from people who have only SMS service on their devices], e.g., Google Voice.

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 3 years ago | (#37144232)

ok i downloaded google voice for my android. i have it linked up with my phone number after going through the wizard. However i do not need to use to make calls - i never go over my minutes. i just need to use it to send and receive text messages. i can go to "Labels" and then hit "Text" but i am not sure how to send people text messages or how to make sure i receive them via google voice and not through the VZ service.

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | about 3 years ago | (#37143984)

To give a technical answer, in GSM systems (like AT&Ts), text messages go over the voice channel, not the data channel. It's similar to data going over a 56k modem (aka, modulated onto the analog phone line) vs data going over a broadband connection (digital end-to-end).

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37144104)

sounds like a ATT understructure problem

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144170)

I thought SMS was actually something originally developed to waste less bandwidth. If I recall correctly, SMS was only transferred in part of the "wasted space" of a voice call(not just from your number).

I remember back when SMS became a big craze and carriers charged out the ass for it. It pissed me off because it cost them literally nothing to transfer SMS messages

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 3 years ago | (#37144184)

well I have verizon and they are CDMA - so are text messages sent differently than data? I have an android incredible 2.

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | about 3 years ago | (#37144214)

And to add to your answer: in GSM systems, SMS piggy-backs on existing required signaling that is needed for identifying when a cell phone comes into a cell tower's signal reach.

So, how much does it cost a GSM provider to provide SMS service on top of cellular? $0.

They expand the radio capability as they get new subscribers, sure... but that's to handle additional phone calls.

There is no such thing as a separate cost to expand SMS capability.

Messaging is darn near *pure profit* for a telecom company.

Whether I send 0 messages, 10 messages, or 1000 messages... it is opportunistic sending (meaning, if all the channels capable of transmitting that data are currently occupied, then my phone waits until the next round of signaling.) This is why messaging isn't guaranteed to be instantaneous.
Most users assume the other person is a little slower to respond, but that isn't always the case.

My personal hope is that, with this type of revenue/cost disparity, these companies are at least using the extra money to subsidize other services (eg, making phone minutes cheaper because, frankly, those *are* tied directly to equipment/operational costs).
Guess that's part of the "secret formula" for how to be a profitable telecom company. ;)

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about 3 years ago | (#37144016)

exactly. your points are valid. data is data, you already pay up the wahzoo for something that barely works in the first place (darn ATT)

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144050)

The main difference is that they aren't data at all, they're just padding that fills a gap in an existing signalling protocol that your phone uses constantly to keep in touch with towers. The crime is that we are charged ANY rate for text messages - those signals happen whether you are sending them (and putting data in that gap) or not.

Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 3 years ago | (#37144146)

then why are they charging for the use of text messages when the signals are already being sent out among the towers? I know the answer is greed but how come someone with enough power has not taken care of this problem?

Henry Mencken was right (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | about 3 years ago | (#37143896)

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

It's amazing how people line up in droves to pay for a service that costs the person providing it basically nothing. Sure, the phone and data network cost to implement and maintain. But SMS messages use so little bandwidth, their incremental cost is basically zero. Yet people pay every month for the privilege of using that service. It's pure profit for the phone company.

Now, if the phone companies were to use the text message profits to offset the cost of the phone and data plans, making my service cheaper, I'd be happy to see them charge incredible amounts for the service. But they don't so I'm out of luck. But at least I don't have to pay extra for all of the text messages I don't send.

I think for my first Android software project I'm going to come up with a text message like program that uses your data plan. I could make a killing on something like that if it took off. Although I'll probably get my ass sued off by patent trolls so I may not bother.

Re:Henry Mencken was right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37143964)

I think for my first Android software project I'm going to come up with a text message like program that uses your data plan. I could make a killing on something like that if it took off. Although I'll probably get my ass sued off by patent trolls so I may not bother.

So kind of like e-mail or instant messaging? You, sir, are an innovative thinker.

Re:Henry Mencken was right (1)

TheAlmightyQ (306969) | about 3 years ago | (#37144236)

I think for my first Android software project I'm going to come up with a text message like program that uses your data plan. I could make a killing on something like that if it took off. Although I'll probably get my ass sued off by patent trolls so I may not bother.

Right after you build your time machine to go back in time 4 years before the 100+ other people already made apps that do just that for Android / iOS.

Want free texting? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 3 years ago | (#37143918)

Get Google Voice. It's free... at least for the time being. If Google ever dares charge even a thin dime for them, they'll probably face a mutiny.

Re:Want free texting? (1)

swan5566 (1771176) | about 3 years ago | (#37144004)

Ummm... what about us that don't have a smartphone and don't want one? The data plan is much more than any texting plan (thought not by as much now).

Re:Want free texting? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 3 years ago | (#37144222)

That is a small problem, I guess. ;-)

I don't even own a cellphone - destitute Luddite here - so I only use the SMS service via a laptop or desktop or Pocket PC. I recently dumped my old D-Link Skype-to-POTS device and got an Obihai ATA that works with Google Voice, but I can't yet text from my house cordless phones; some expert ATA hacker may yet figger a way to make the Obihai boxes handle that, too.

Boycott Fees! (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about 3 years ago | (#37143992)

It doesn't cost ATT or any cell company more for them to pass text messages between phones.. actually it is cheaper for them if you text than making a call. So why do they charge for a service that should be free in the first place? I don't know, but i do know i have had Text BLOCKED on my cell and Internet disabled on my cell. A lot of my tech friends all say, "your an IT professional and you dont have a smart phone" I tell them. I can do it all on my Super Lap Top and i don't mind pulling it out to check the internet or send an email. If you care at all about your bills and having to pay well over $100 for a family plan, then boycott Apple, boycott data usage.. dont use it and they will drop the price.. any one ever hear of Supply and Demand. i mean really now. Unplug for a month, cancel your text and data for a month, lets all see what happens when ATT cant give the upper ups their thousands of dollars bonuses.

Google Voice (1)

Chris453 (1092253) | about 3 years ago | (#37144018)

The Google Voice app is capable of sending/receiving messages using your phone's data plan already. If you and the people you message have Google Voice you might be able to reduce the amount of actual SMS messages you use per month. Plus it has other useful features too...

The real real for buying Tmobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144034)

Its to create a monopoly and force users to pay more for the same service.

Why not change carriers? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 3 years ago | (#37144036)

Are iphones really worth all this strife? Just sayin.. if it sucks, put your money into the competition. It's really the only way to change it.

Everything is cheaper in the US (1)

quenda (644621) | about 3 years ago | (#37144048)

Whenever I get annoyed about how everything is so much cheaper in the US (houses, food, clothes, computers, cable internet, ...) it helps to remember how at least you folks are screwed over on telephones, both fixed and mobile. By cost and service.
- "What, you must pay to *receive* calls!? A phone plan costs *how* much? pay extra for tethering, really?" Ah, schadenfreude.

Re:Everything is cheaper in the US (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | about 3 years ago | (#37144220)

We're also screwed on broadband availability, and if you have a choice in providers you're one of the lucky ones.

Quite yer bitchin'!! (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 3 years ago | (#37144060)

Don't worry citizen! In unrelated news, the Ministry of Plenty has released a statement that they will be increasing the chocolate ration to 15g tomorrow.

Re:Quite yer bitchin'!! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37144116)

sold!

thanks for the subsidy (1)

drago177 (150148) | about 3 years ago | (#37144076)

Until consumers realize how cheap text messages really are, I'm perfectly happy watching other people subsidize my bill while I text away on the Google Voice app. I want to guess this will finally make the app more popular, but the average consumer has been this slow for so long about it, this will be interesting to watch.

Not dead yet (1)

nobodynoone (940116) | about 3 years ago | (#37144086)

After reading this, I decided to go check my ATT account, and I was able to downgrade just fine from the 1500 text plan for $15 to the 1000 text plan for $10. So...if you want it, better go and get it before they update their site. iMessage is about to dramatically lower my billed texts anyway.

Texting is free on all carrieres (5, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | about 3 years ago | (#37144156)

Don't forget that text message costs are exclusively determined by lying to you and constant bullshit experiments in "what the market will bear".

Texting is almost completely free for carriers. The messages piggyback to and from your phone in the spare bandwidth of the tower synchronization signals the phone uses to check reception and select towers for voice/data transmission. The only infinitesimal cost that might exist to the carrier is transmitting 140 lousy bytes from one tower to another tower; the capacity on the towers themselves is free.

Now this might have changed somewhat in recent years; I'm not a communications engineer. But I don't think it has. And I'd bet my life that even if it has, texts still don't cost the carriers more than 0.1 cents.

This is the very picture of evil corporate overlords plotting in a dark tower to see how much money they can squeeze out of you for nothing and avoid advancing technology as long as possible. Real technology entrepreneurs like George Eastman struggled constantly against themselves, trying to make things cheaper and better for the consumer. Eastman in particular tried desperately to obsolete his own products in favor of offering consumers even better, years before the prior product would otherwise have dropped in sales; today we call that cannibalism, and most tech companies struggle like hell to avoid a whit of it. (People acted like Apple was batshit crazy for not better managing their product line when iphones started to cannibalize ipods. Nevermind that iphones cost hundreds more, so even that cannibalism is pure profit.)

When's the last time you saw a company that put out everything they had, every time, and didn't hold something back for upgrade cycles or a magical September festival of worship?

I still have my option to spend less (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37144202)

1. I'm on T-Mobile, and if it gets gobbled I can switch.

2. I only send a few texts a month. Hello! A few years ago this didn't even exits. It's not air, water or food. It's texting.

3. Just from the description it sounds like you can chose the $0.20/text option and once again, QUIT TEXTING SO DAMN MUCH.

In other words: tempest. teapot.

Disclosure: I currently own shares in T and VZ, (more precicely, I'll own them when options expire today)

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