The four major companies, TMobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all instead chosen to side-step the issue and have made excuses for the price increases. They have identified the increasing numbers of text messages sent in recent years as reason for increasing per text charges. However, when the issue is explored a little deeper, we find that costs to the providers have not increased due to larger text volumes. In fact, text messages are a “free-rider” tucked into control channels, which is space reserved for operation of the wireless network (2).
Text messages are very small, and are limited to 160 characters to qualify them as free-riders. Despite costing the provider virtually nothing to transmit, customers are charged an incredible amount to send very little data. According to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, “600 text messages contain as much data as a one minute phone conversation. At 20 cents a pop, 600 text messages would cost $120.00,” (3). This is just one example of the gross overcharging of customers at the hands of the major wireless providers.
According to physorg.com, “texting is four times more expensive than receiving scientific data from space,” (4). So it costs four times more to send and receive texts than it does to receive information from the Hubble Telescope! According to Techcrunch.com, AT&T’s text messages cost $1,310 per megabyte. This means that texting for TMobile, Verizon, and Sprint also cost $1,310 per megabyte, as each of the four major companies charge twenty cents to send and receive texts (5). At this rate, downloading one 4MB song would cost over $5,000. I recently saw calculations someone had done on an AT&T forum (of all places) – if broadband internet cost as much to transmit data as texting, it would cost about $1.2 million per month. All of these calculations further prove what I have been claiming for years – that texting is a major rip-off!