The U.S. Senate is conducting an investigation into why wireless phone carriers charge what they do for text messages.
In the past five years the average cost of a text message has doubled while the industry has shrunk to about a handful of carriers.
The Senate antitrust committee has sent invitations to representatives with Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile to discuss their text message pricing policies.
According to a New York Times article, the four major carriers have all double the price of a regular text message from 10 cents to 20 per message.
At least 2.5 trillion messages have been sent, an incredible 32 percent increase from 2007. Experts believe that number could increase to 3.3 trillion worldwide by the end of next year.
The Senate committee would like to know what the actual costs of supplying text message service are for companies. In written responses to the Senate, each company artfully dodged the directed query.
At least two class-action lawsuits have been filed against AT&T and other carriers alleging price fixing on text messaging.
While that company defends its actions, T-Mobile goes farther by saying if a customer took advantage of a monthly fee for text messages, the cost would be about 1 penny per message. It said the company’s revenue from text messages has dropped by half since 2005.
And while the phone carriers continue to elude the question at hand, the basic knowledge of the technology will tell anyone familiar that the costs of each message to the consumer are greatly exaggerated over the actual costs.
Messages require only the wireless connection from the phone and aren’t stored in any physical location other than a recipient’s phone memory.
Since these messages are typically very small in file size, even the cost of transporting each message isn’t high.
Of course, all the science in the world will only need to serve as proof-positive if wireless carriers continue to avoid making public their costs of offering text message services.