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Messaging Apps, VoIP Already Eating Into Carrier Revenue

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the you're-gonna-get-net-neutralized dept.

Blackberry 225

An anonymous reader writes "A new breed of messaging services and mobile Voice over IP clients like Skype are already eating into carrier revenues according to a new study. '... one-third of carriers are already seeing voice traffic and SMS revenue decline as a result of the increased popularity of third-party solutions. ... For years, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger service has been one of the top features consumers and enterprise users loved about BlackBerry devices. It took much longer than some expected, but other vendors and third-party developers have finally come out in full force with competing services that provide SMS-like messaging over data networks at little or no cost to the user."

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225 comments

The funny part (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102420)

Is that the data messaging probably costs the carrier more than SMS...

Re:The funny part (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102430)

SMS is technically free. The only cost is counting/bill.

Re:The funny part (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103400)

Usually yes, but where I live a mobile operator had to upgrade infrastructure because during the holidays (Christmas/New Year) the SMSs were delayed for as much as two days.

Re:The funny part (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103424)

Right. And by charging extortionate prices for what is essentially a free service, the carriers have made it financially viable for competitors to flourish, even if they are ostensibly more expensive to run. Which is fine, that's how capitalism is supposed to work. The carriers could shut down these other services by significantly lowering the price of SMS services, but it's such a cash cow I think they'll try something else... maybe legislation?

Re:The funny part (-1, Redundant)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103520)

No. SMS is technically something that is built into a monthly existence of a working phone. It is NOT free, you have fallen for a myth. Specifically, any phone that you have, even if you don't use it for anything, get no calls, make no data requests, still costs the phone company a small amount of money each month. Your phone pings the cell tower. Those pings are where the SMS messages are kept. Each ping costs the phone company a small amount of electricity and a small amount of bandwidth. Yes, an SMS message is the infintismal cost included in simply having a phone with no messages, but it is a cost. It is NOT technically free, it is just the smallest possible upkeep neccessary to maintain an account.

Re:The funny part (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103656)

Right. So, in other words, it doesn't cost the carrier any extra than it would otherwise, therefore it's free. QED.

Did someone enable your -verbose and -idiot flags when you booted up this morning, or what?

Re:The funny part (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103622)

Wot Rubbish! There are are costs equipment, operations, and bandwidth. Bandwidth may not be the major cost. SMS messages are grossly over priced at the consumer level. But let's have an discussion that's rational, based on facts and evidence.

Re:The funny part (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103638)

SMS is technically free. The only cost is counting/bill.

If you consider only the radio spectrum involved in delivery, you could make that argument.

But the messages have to be routed, handed off to other carriers, stored and forwarded, etc. This has a real cost, even if the last mile imposes no additional burden on the cell tower.

Further, you must amortize your network, every switch, tower, transmitter, fiber optic. You spread these costs over every service you provide. If people dropped their voice plans and kept only their sms plans, you STILL end up having to maintain the same towers, networks, and switching centers.

So SMS messages are essentially free as long as you look ONLY at that segment of open air between the tower an your phone.

That being said, the rate charged for these things are beyond all measure of the actual costs. I'm not defending the pricing.
I'm simply calling into question the rather myopic view that they come down the same pre-existing signaling channel and are therefore free.

Re:The funny part (5, Insightful)

teg (97890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103740)

SMS is technically free. The only cost is counting/bill.

Carriers don't charge SMS usage fees because of the big variable costs... they charge because they can, because it has a value to the customer.

A large part of the cost for a carrier is fixed cost - the various priced services is just how to they believe they can recoup most of it and make their profit. If noone pays for SMS anymore, they'll instead have higher costs for talk or data than they do now. They know how much money they need to earn per handset on average, and that's what they'll get one way or the other.

Re:The funny part (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102584)

Considering that SMS uses the same packet radio features that cellular networks use to keep the network appraised of where the phone is, and that packet size is much larger than the data that is transmitted per packet requiring the packets to be buffered out with null data, and that fitting the SMS messages just fill the rest of the packet that has to be transmitted anyway, even charging for SMS messaging is a crock.

I can understand charging for image or audio messages, as those actually do impact the use of the network. Charging for SMS, though, that's just sheer greed.

My wife and I got unlimited minutes cell plans when they were novel and first introduced to long-term customers several years ago, and we didn't get any SMS or data for her since she doesn't have a smartphone. Consequently, we used voice airtime even when SMS would have worked, as we didn't want to pay $0.20 for less than 300 characters. Because the carrier is greedy it actually cost them more for us to be customers.

I also believe that data features on smartphones that are provided by the carrier and OS on the phone, like e-mail, directory services, map data, and other non-web, fairly low-bandwidth data services should be complimentary with the purchase of the data plan, and should subsequently not count against one's 2gb cap or whatever the cap may be. But, apparently cell companies right now don't agree with me.

When I travelled overseas I found cellphones to be a much better deal. That they cost so much here for what one gets compared to overseas where they have the hell regulated out of them means to me that letting companies operate as they will, with contracts to the users, carrier-locked phones, and more than a single network standard further preventing even unlocked devices from conveniently switching between some carriers to be BS.

Re:The funny part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102746)

Won't somebody please think of the free market?

Re:The funny part (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102884)

The Free Market is a myth and always has been. Like the Laffer Curve and the trickle-down theory of wealth distribution.

Re:The funny part (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103412)

How many damn usernames do you have? What is this, your third iteration? Do you just get bored using the same one all the time?

Re:The funny part (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103468)

The Free Market is a myth and always has been. Like the Laffer Curve and the trickle-down theory of wealth distribution.

Oh, there's a trickling sound alright. ;-)

The Laffer Curve opens up some interesting economic ideas. The problem is that we're to the left of the peak so reducing taxes simply reduces revenues.

Re:The funny part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102890)

There is no free market in telecommunications. The table is heavily tilted towards larger companies.

Re:The funny part (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103192)

This is not true in my experience. Larger companies inevitably do buy the smaller companies once they start gaining ground, though.

Re:The funny part (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103334)

Considering that SMS uses the same packet radio features that cellular networks use to keep the network appraised of where the phone is, and that packet size is much larger than the data that is transmitted per packet requiring the packets to be buffered out with null data, and that fitting the SMS messages just fill the rest of the packet that has to be transmitted anyway, even charging for SMS messaging is a crock.

Agreed, BUT, if you don't charge, the bandwidth available for that purpose would be saturated with people freeloading.

SMS charges ARE a crock of shit, but they can not be free without a fundamental change in human behavior or they will be unusable.

Re:The funny part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103610)

Considering that SMS uses the same packet radio features that cellular networks use to keep the network appraised of where the phone is, and that packet size is much larger than the data that is transmitted per packet requiring the packets to be buffered out with null data, and that fitting the SMS messages just fill the rest of the packet that has to be transmitted anyway, even charging for SMS messaging is a crock.

Agreed, BUT, if you don't charge, the bandwidth available for that purpose would be saturated with people freeloading.

SMS charges ARE a crock of shit, but they can not be free without a fundamental change in human behavior or they will be unusable.

WTF? SMS makes no promise of delivery. Overloaded messages are dropped. The net effect of "too many" SMS messages is zero. You just send it again.

Re:The funny part (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103506)

Is that the data messaging probably costs the carrier more than SMS...

Maybe, maybe not.

As we move to LTE, there may no longer be any need for a signaling channel (which is what SMS rides on for free).
The carriers, while bemoaning the lost revenue are probably just as happy to see SMS disappear as anyone else.

Data messaging (data in general) is just another few packets in the data stream, where the routing is not their problem. Throw it on the internet and forget about it.

The story linked to in the summary more or less hints at this:

“This is one of the primary reasons the industry is currently moving towards an all-IP converged core network accelerated by the deployment of LTE technology. By allowing users to place high definition voice and video calls, chat, share content, and discover new services as part of a globally connected framework, operators can retain and even grow their share of customer communication spend.”

Carriers are setting prices and data tiers now so as to be properly positioned for what is coming in the future. They realize they will end up being dumb TCP/IP pipes covering the last mile(s) of open air, and they won't be selling you minutes or messages; Just Megabytes.

TextFree+Voice (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102436)

Free Texting (and they give you a phone number) and phone calls. All the solutions I'm aware of lack Picture Capability, but Google is working on that I Think. Fuck AT&T & Verizon's 20 bucks a month for texting, that's all I'm saying. Anyone who pays so much for so little needs their head checked

Re:TextFree+Voice (4, Funny)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102554)

I can't receive random pictures and videos over text messages with Google Voice you say? That's a feature!

Re:TextFree+Voice (3, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102560)

All the solutions I'm aware of lack Picture Capability...

iOS 5's iMessage supports sending of photos and videos. Chances are I won't have an SMS plan much longer.

Re:TextFree+Voice (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102656)

Unless you want to talk to someone that doesn't own an Apple product. You know, all the people worth talking to.

Re:TextFree+Voice (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102964)

Unless you want to talk to someone that doesn't own an Apple product. You know, all the people worth talking to.

Apple fan: "I love my phone."
Android fan: "I hate your phone."

Remember two short years ago when it was the Apple fanboys that were the over-zealous sort?

Re:TextFree+Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103112)

Android users: "We love our phone's OS"
Apple company: "We hate your phone's OS"

I still think that Apple - as a whole ecosystem - has the market locked down on being 'over-zealous'

Re:TextFree+Voice (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103258)

You can rationalize it any way you like, but when you say things like "people that matter don't use iOS" you still sound just like those obnoxious Mac fanatics from the mid-to-late 90's.

The righteous don't know they're a cult.

Re:TextFree+Voice (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103362)

So ... no one?

Lets face it, I have more friends with iPhones than you probably have friends total, so jump off your high horse and join reality, dick heads like yourself can't afford to be so picky about their friends.

Re:TextFree+Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103402)

Uhm... Why didn't you do this earlier?

Applications like Facebook Messenger, Nimbuzz / Mundu / Trillian / etc., multiprotocol messengers, google chat, Whatsapp, etc., all did this before -- and did it cross platform too. My cheap old $50 off contract featurephone (Huawei U5717 or something) can install Nimbuzz from GetJar.com. Some support SMS replacement, others support Photos and Videos. Others support even more features, like sharing GPS coordinates / maps or sketches.

Or are you going to say it's revolutionary or easy to use or some BS?

Re:TextFree+Voice (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103484)

Uhm... Why didn't you do this earlier?

Because I need the people on the other end to do it, too.

Or are you going to say it's revolutionary or easy to use or some BS?

Several people I do SMS chats with upgraded to iOS 5 and instantly I have far fewer paid messages going through. This example of ease-of-use is BS?

Re:TextFree+Voice (1)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102808)

*uck AT&T & Verizon's 20 bucks a month for texting, that's all I'm saying

I dunno about Verizon, but AT&T charges me $5 a month for 200 SMS or MMS messages.

If someone uses their unlimited service for short text messages, then yes, that person needs to wake up and realize that they can "text" practically for free using other apps.

But if you use the $5 service to send mostly video & photo messages, it makes more sense. Super convenient too.

YMMV.

Re:AT&T charges me $5 a month-- now $20 (1)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103110)

I tried to subscribe to the $5 AT&T plan a couple months ago only to find out that those plans are gone and replaced with a $20 unlimited texting plan.

Re:TextFree+Voice (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103236)

Free Texting (and they give you a phone number) and phone calls. All the solutions I'm aware of lack Picture Capability, but Google is working on that I Think. Fuck AT&T & Verizon's 20 bucks a month for texting, that's all I'm saying. Anyone who pays so much for so little needs their head checked

Depends on your carrier, I guess.

https://shop.koodomobile.com/plans/add-ons/index.html [koodomobile.com]

I can get Unlimited global texting for $5/mo, Call display for $6/mo, and Voicemail for $6/mo, or I can get all three for $10/mo. By NA standards that's stupidly cheap... but European and Asian standards, that's ridiculously overpriced. It depends on who you're with, I suppose. That said, ATT seems to like fucking its customers over, just going on past example.... perhaps your problem isn't that you're paying for texting, it's that the company you're with has their heads so far up their asses they can see out their mouth....

Good for several reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102468)

Beyond the obvious, widespread adoption of this will alleviate much of the control channel load that SMS imposes, which is good news for everyone.

of course, the carriers will just jack up the cost of data and bundle in SMS with it as a mandatory feature.

Re:Good for several reasons (4, Informative)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102616)

I thought the whole point was that SMS uses the remainder of the defined packet size that's otherwise filled with null characters because of the nature of the packet sizes that were chosen when this kind of radio communication was implemented... In short, SMS costs nothing when the data is already being transmitted OTA anyway...

Re:Good for several reasons (5, Informative)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102744)

There IS NO channel load for SMS. Every time you phone says "hello, I'm here", it receives an equivalent of an ACK with SMS WITHIN THE SAME PACKET.

So you can receive as many sms as times as your network knows in which antenna you are, without using a single extra byte from them, because that would be zero-filled otherwise.

If there is such a thing as an immense scam right now, it is SMS.

iMessage (2)

DigitalGodBoy (142596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102492)

My text usage has dropped about 85% now that iMessage is automatically taking every iPhone user's texts over the Apple's server systems. Pretty handy.

Re:iMessage (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102592)

Proprietary solutions are not helping anybody but the people who create them, be it Apple or RIM.

Re:iMessage (0)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102780)

Yup, but the protocols for their own video calling system are open and published. You are welcome to implement your own alternative. Which no one did so far, AFAIK.

If you are bothered by it, did you do something?

Re:iMessage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103056)

They actually have not released the protocols yet.

Re:iMessage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103254)

Open and published...

and subject to licensing fees that can increase whenever the hell the consortium wants. Hell, are they even required to issue FRAND licensing seeing that they're claiming to be an "industry standard"?

No thanks.

Re:iMessage (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103322)

Yes, I told everyone I know not to buy products from a company that promises to open a standard, doesn't do it, and then advertises heavily that you can use it to communicate between all of the different devices from that company. I'm specifically talking about FaceTime here, not iMessage. Major dick-move. I don't think they even promised to open the protocol for iMessage.

Re:iMessage (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103420)

Yup, but the protocols for their own video calling system are open and published. You are welcome to implement your own alternative. Which no one did so far, AFAIK.

If you are bothered by it, did you do something?

Published, maybe, Free, not.

With a zillion protocols to choose from why did apple invent their own.

XMPP (Jabber) was there all along, and its under active development and enhancement, its free, cross platform and is being extended to handle video, voice, and multimedia with the formalization of LibJingle. In addition to a world wide network of free servers, it can now work with no server at all.

Google uses it. Microsoft uses it. Why did Apple have to invent their own?

Could it be that XMPP could reach out beyond the garden walls?

Re:iMessage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103396)

True, it'd be better if everyone got together and developed an open iMessage-like protocol instead. But the point remains: if they're going to charge more for text messages than they charge for the equivalent amount of data, then the answer is to send the text through the data connection.

Re:iMessage (0)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103444)

And those of us who use them.

Pretty much everyone I know owns an iPhone so I turned off my monthly messaging plan for the family and saved $30/month.

You can be all rightous and high and mighty and you can shove it up your ass while I save $30/month on my proprietary plan.

Yes, I would prefer that we just use XMPP for text messaging so that I can use my own fucking addresses and buddy lists and location information, but until that becomes more wide spread, I'll just have to be happy that my friends aren't obnoxious fucks like yourself.

Well, that and the fact that it'll happly fall back to SMS for everyone who isn't an iPhone owner ... so I not only get to be a smug asshole to douche bags like you, I'm also not actually prevented from communicating with everyone else. So basically, you get to sit around and bitch, and I get to win.

Perhaps you should spend less time worrying about what iPhone owners get/do and more about yourself and how much you make your life harder.

Re:iMessage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103678)

You are a complete fucking douchebag. Go suck your mom's dick.

Re:iMessage (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103592)

They're helping lots of people by lowering their bills. Apple and RIM may be helped by their own actions as well, but that's a far cry from saying they're the only ones who benefit.

Re:iMessage (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102646)

Which takes up more bandwidth toward your X gb cap? SMS traffic, or forwarding more complex imformation through Apple's servers?

I'd bet on the latter...

Re:iMessage (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102958)

I can only speak for Google Talk, not for the Apple chat thing, but the amount of bandwidth is tiny. I use Google Talk all the time instead of texting, and the bandwidth used up isn't even worth mentioning, and I'm only on a 500MB data plan!

Re:iMessage (1)

CodeReign (2426810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103326)

Google Talk is similar, none of my friends use it because they are primarily bbm freaks or apple freaks. But Google Talk is just XMPP so it's usable by everything. I'm disappointed that what's app doesn't support XMPP as many of my friends have moved to that for interoperability and their apps are fucking shit.

Prices are rising in response (2)

Zouden (232738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102496)

Here in the Netherlands all 3 major mobile carriers recently raised their prices (and/or lowered their download limit) within a few weeks of each other. Vodafone cited falling SMS revenue due to WhatsApp. This isn't surprising; I send maybe 3 text messages a month now compared to about 1,000 using WhatsApp.

Evolution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102518)

In the end, all you will need is a smart phone and a data connection. 4G with quality of service for VoIP and you only need a data contract.

Re:Evolution... (1)

PsyciatricHelp (951182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102686)

exactly. Of course with all other industries its about holding control as long as possible. Technically everything you do on your phone (smart or not) is nothing but data usage. your voice already uses a form of voip. not ethernet based but it is just data. the migration to data only plans is inevitable but I expect to see the phone companies fight it as long as possible.

Google Voice and GrooveIP (3, Interesting)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102522)

Between the 1 2 combination of Google Voice and GrooveIP, Verizon is "losing" a ton of revenue from me. My text messaging needs are natively handled by Google Voice and with some help from the grooveip app, Google Voice handles my voip needs as well. I just turned off my texting carrier plan and cranked my minutes to the absolute minimum. Fortunately I'm grandfathered in on an unlimited data plan from Verizon to make this all possible. I have unlimited monthly calling minutes and messages on the lowest plan Verizon carries. I just carry my OG Droid around as a glorified Mi-Fi and keep my Nexus S tethered. You wouldn't even realize theNexus doesn't have a similar card the system works so well.

Prices go up, usage goes down? (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102526)

So shortly after all of the major carriers dropped the even slightly reasonable SMS plans, people started using the hacky but free alternatives? What a shocker. This seems like a classic example of what happens when you price yourself right out of the market.

Re:Prices go up, usage goes down? (4, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102956)

So shortly after all of the major carriers dropped the even slightly reasonable SMS plans, people started using the hacky but free alternatives? What a shocker. This seems like a classic example of what happens when you price yourself right out of the market.

If you want to see Price Discrimination at work, check out the prices on Mobile Virtual Network Operators (companies that buy access to Verizon, ATT, Sprint, etc. in bulk and resell it via subscription or prepaid contracts.) MVNO carriers offer basically the exact same coverage footprint, you can use the exact same set of handsets (but without a contract, the prices are obviously much different) and yet a MVNO will charge you at least *half*, if not less, for the exact same number of minutes, text messages, and data. Why more people don't use them instead of continuing to be extorted by the big carriers is beyond explanation. If gas cost half as much but you had to pump it yourself (oh, wait) how many people would ever go to full-serve filling stations?

Re:Prices go up, usage goes down? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103398)

Actually, what surprises me is that the incumbents in the US don't seem to have fight brands. I'm with Koodo, in Canada, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telus... On Telus, you get 150 anytime minutes and data for $50/mo, add $15/mo for call display/domestic texting, and long distance is extra. On Koodo, you get 150 anytime minutes, 5pm evenings/weekends, data, unlimited global texting, call display, voicemail, and unlimited long distance for $45/mo. You're buying the service from the same company, with the same towers, you can put a Koodo SIM in a Telus phone and vice-versa without unlocking the phone, but because you're buying from the fight brand, you get a good deal. My price is still stupidly overpriced when compared to what can be had in Europe, but I'm getting a much better plan than I could get from one of the incumbents....

Re:Prices go up, usage goes down? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103508)

Why more people don't use them instead of continuing to be extorted by the big carriers is beyond explanation. If gas cost half as much but you had to pump it yourself (oh, wait) how many people would ever go to full-serve filling stations?

Perhaps if your analogy were tweaked a bit it would make more sense. Let's say you walk in to your local Shell station and the attendant informs you that if you agree to only buy gas from shell for the next 1/2/3 years Shell will sell you a Cadillac/Lexus/Infinity for the price of a Chevy Cruz. You pay more for your gas every month but you got a sweet deal on a new luxury automobile. What doesn't make sense is people who willingly go month to month paying the same rate for gas as the ones who got the luxury auto.

Who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102552)

Seriously -- who cares? Carriers have been ripping off their customers on SMS data rates for years. I recently signed up for a new cell phone, and instead of a decent messaging plan that offers 200 SMS messages or something for a reasonable rate like $5 or $10 per month, my carrier now only offers either unlimited messaging for an extra $20 per month, or $.10 per message. There is no in between any more.

Is it any wonder people are trying to abandon them as fast as they can?

Re:Who cares? (4, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103018)

For years the American Consumer has been saying "We want to pay the same amount every month for a service, worry-free about overages. We want predictability. We want to be able to budget and plan ahead." It makes sense, right? But for some reason, we can hand these companies over a fairly large sum, more than we'd pay if we really fine-tuned our service preferences, and they'll still want more out of us. The SMS thing, in particular, kills me just on the grounds that we are just handing them over pure profit. Yet they still keep upping the prices on it.

I was really happy to see people stand up and tell the banks NO to the debit card fees. I can't help but hope that we start stepping up more to fight all this nickel-and-diming. I think it's time for me to start putting a little more energy into doing just that. I recently had a problem where Time Warner would call me every few months to offer me digital phone service. Each time I'd tell them to stop calling me. I had to spend an hour on the phone one night to finally nail that down for good. (To their credit, it has been almost a year and not even an advert has come through the mail.) But... if they do, I'm dropping one of my premium services. I like HBO, but I don't really need it. I'm wiling to bet if other people started removing upsells from their services these companies might settle down a bit.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103480)

I've yet to be able to comprehend the crap people put up with from these outfits. I refuse to do a contract because I want to be able to drop bum service at the drop of a hat. The latest phone is a crummy Android phone I got for $85 (Optimus V), and am doing the $35/month non-contract gig with no data or SMS limits. Still more than I want to spend given how little I use it, but a hell of a lot better than the bottom tier $90/month iphone plans that lock you in for 2 YEARS.

That's what happens. (2)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102606)

You gouge the prices to unreasonable levels (especially on a sub-par service), people are going to find a way around paying.

Re:That's what happens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103006)

How many damn usernames do you have? What is this, your third iteration? Do you just get bored using the same one all the time?

Bye (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102612)

And hopefully just like publishing companies we soon won't need separate wireless phone carriers.

All we'll need is a wireless network.

Welcome to dumb pipes. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102620)

What people really want are dumb pipes. Imagine if you could just get a data plan and then pick your VOIP carrier?
And if you could just stream the video you wanted at home..
And that is just exactly what Comcast, AT&T and Verizon do now want you to do.

Re:Welcome to dumb pipes. (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102708)

Keep in mind that for everyone who wants a dumb pipe, there's someone who wants America Online, even if they have no idea why they want it.

That's how all of these "features" that cell phone companies concoct manage to keep customers coming in.

Re:Welcome to dumb pipes. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102938)

And that VoIP carrier worked on your cell phone and your home cordless as well. That's what I'd like.

Re:Welcome to dumb pipes. (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103648)

Welcome to yesterday. Sipdroid or some other SIP client on your phone and a router with SIP that allows you to connect a phone, et voila. Even works over 3G...

Re:Welcome to dumb pipes. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103706)

No reason why it couldn't except why have a home cordless? Cell+wifi+VIOP= home cordless.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102644)

Am I supposed to feel bad about there being cheaper, less controlled ways to do something?

If everything was free, there wouldn't be much of a need for money...

SMS at Hubble data rates (5, Interesting)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102660)

just shouts "more money than brains." It was on /. a while back. (! yr? 2 yrs? more?) Somebody costed out what people were paying for texting, and on a per-byte basis, it cost more than what NASA paid to communicate with the space telescope. I never could understand people putting up with that. Voip + wifi for me since about 2005.

And this is the REAL reason for Data caps -at home (3, Interesting)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102670)

1-Imagine if people could get unlimited data plan not for their Smartphone but at home.
2-Imagine if many (not most or all) people offered limited but free WIFI to Cell phones. (Don't ask how, just follow me on this)
3-Few people would need a data plan at all on their SmartPhones
4-Cell phone providers would have to lower their rates or die.

However, with great corruption comes draconian laws.
Therefore, cell phone providers have little to fear.

Re:And this is the REAL reason for Data caps -at h (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102858)

1-Imagine if people could get unlimited data plan not for their Smartphone but at home.
2-Imagine if many (not most or all) people offered limited but free WIFI to Cell phones. (Don't ask how, just follow me on this)
3-Few people would need a data plan at all on their SmartPhones
4-Cell phone providers would have to lower their rates or die.

However, with great corruption comes draconian laws.
Therefore, cell phone providers have little to fear.

Part of what you're asking for is already taking shape - a cell service provider (well ok, reseller - I think they use Sprint's network) leveraging Wifi to sell an unlimited everything cell plan for $19/month:

http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/07/republic-wireless-officially-unveils-19month-service-unlimited-everything-no-contracts/ [techcrunch.com]

The catch is, you have to do most of your calls/text/data while on Wifi and (for now) it only works on their specific phones. They'll drop you if you start using significant cellular network resources.

But it sounds like a great plan for me, where most of the time I use my phone I'm either at home or work where I've got good Wifi coverage, but when I'm on the road and need to pull up a Google map or make a call, I still have the cellular network to fall back on.

Re:And this is the REAL reason for Data caps -at h (1)

danbob999 (2490674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102892)

With only 100MB you don't have to worry about messaging, it's virtually unlimited. With half a gig, you can probably say the same for VoIP.

Re:And this is the REAL reason for Data caps -at h (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103680)

When I was looking into what was the best option for me earlier this year, I wasn't able to find a VOIP codec that used less than half a meg per minute. Things may have changed, but I'd be surprised. Ultimately, it made more sense for me to get a 150 anytime minutes with 5pm eve/weekend and unlimited domestic LD plan for $25/mo than to pay for the data. :)

Google Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102710)

Here in the US, I do all my mobile messaging using Google Voice from my phone. It uses wireless data from the phone to Google, where they have an SMS gateway. Added benefit of being able to send/receive/view my inbox from any browser. It's awesome.

It Works.. (1)

freshlimesoda (2497490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102758)

I have had just a single unit of my currency in my prepaid card that I havn't recharged for about 2 weeks now. I cant make calls with that amount and normally I don't make too many calls anyway, but since my BBM and emails still work, so I hardly notice. I will until I eventually have to make a call, but till then I am still connected.

They just add data plans to make up for it! (3, Informative)

cs668 (89484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38102770)

T-Mobile added a per MB data plan to my service when I specifically set up my plan 2 years ago to have no data component. I told them that I did not what my phone to be able to access the Internet and surprise me with charges. Everything was fine until me last bill, when I had $40 of data charges. They had added an on demand data plan to my service and like any good smart phone when it couldn't get wifi it went ahead and used the mobile carrier, and racked up a big bill. I think that is their way of upping revenue.

Re:They just add data plans to make up for it! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103308)

Your phone should have the ability to turn off Cellular data, even the super locked down, anti-freedom, hate the users (I'm quoting android people here) iphone allows that.

I turn off cellphone data on my iphone a lot of times. All i can afford is the 200MB plan, which is a rip off, but they force it upon you if you have an iphone... I guess they kill puppies if you use one without a data plan..

Re:They just add data plans to make up for it! (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103490)

It can turn off data over cellular. Funny thing is that also turns off non text parts of MMS messages.

Since I specified a plan with no data component and even asked them if I could accidentally access the Internet and incur data charges and they said no I was really surprised when per MB data was added to my plan and I was charged. I know at least 5 people that were effected in the same way, it's just really unethical as a business practice to lie to your customers.

There's a problem with the article title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38102930)

...It should read "Messaging Apps, VoIP Already Pushing Carrier Profit Margins To Free-Market Levels"

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103178)

"eating into...revenues" = "holy crap can you imagine how much money we could be raking in if only we had been charging for all this traffic in the first place!?"

And Yet.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103280)

I can not find ONE person on this planet that feels bad for them.

Gouging for SMS messaging costs, Gouging on Data costs, etc...

Boo fricking hoo Cellphone companies..... I'll throw a pity party in your honour this holiday season.

did they (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103312)

remove things that people wouldn't be doing through normal carriers? Since it's free or super cheap, many epople are making calls that wouldn't have normally made.

I may Skype with my friends while gaming, but no way would I call them on a 'party' line.

The real winner should be best value, not fastest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38103568)

Verizon just lit up their LTE service here in the Kansas City area. Yawn. I just don't see the point of having a very fast network with low data caps. Sure, email and basic web surfing work a bit faster than 3G, but who cares? The applications that could take advantage of the extra bandwidth -- Hulu, Netflix, Skype, BitTorrent -- just drive you to the cap that much faster. Given the limits of physics (only so much spectrum to go around) the advantage should go to the carrier who can deliver reasonable service the cheapest, not the the carrier who can boast the highest theoretical throughput. But alas, nobody wants to be a dumb pipe or a "utility".

Too bad Google didn't actually buy all that LTE spectrum a few years back. It would have been interesting to see somebody who's not from the world of "phone companies" offering service. I'd like to think that they would be much more open to "over the top" services like WhatsApp, Voxer, Xingo, Skype etc.

No shit, and unlimited data plans are going away (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103586)

Is this a surprise or revelation to you guys or something?

They are going to get paid for the service, you're going to pay them, its just a question of how the data gets to you.

If everyone switches to using massive amounts of data ... they'll stop making data unlimite.. ... wait ... whats that? It already happened? Fuck. Good thing I'm grandfathered in :)

Dear Carriers: (4, Insightful)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38103630)

Dear Carriers:

What you want the least, is what your customers want you to be the most: a dumb pipe.

Please get out of our way.

Sincerely,

Your Customers
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