The NY Times has an interesting article about the biggest cashcow for the mobile carriers: SMS messaging, or as it is called in the US: Text messaging.
I'm surprised the US government hasn't called a stop to the price increase for texting. 20 cents? Rip-off.
In the netherlands, we're "lucky" to have the "OPTA" watchdog. And EU wide there's the Information Society. They act to prevent rip-offs regarding roaming costs.
The big excuse for roaming cost always was that carriers were cross-charging net use to the originating carrier. And the customer has to pay for that of course. The really fun part is that even if the company is the same (e.g. Vodafone), the regional carrier (e.g. VF germany) will charge the other carrier (e.g. VF Netherlands) for net use. Of course this is complete bullshit in the view of "one company".
So the EU commission came up with the following rules, which have to be implemented by July 1st, 2009:
- an SMS message across networks will cost the customer no more than 11 cents. Receiving is free as always.
- More transparency - by July 2010 operators must provide customers with the opportunity to determine in advance how much they want to spend.
- wholesale caps for data roaming. This is your regular web browsing and email traffic over the mobile networks. Thet should not be more as 1 euro per megabyte. Look out: this is the wholesale price, not the end-user price.
Regular (local) SMS message costs vary per carrier and subscription package. The more you pay for your subscription the "cheaper" the SMS will be. Of course, that's all in the big scheme of rip-offs. There is hardly any cost (and bandwith) involved sending an SMS message, so any cent that is charged for a message is profit. And of course your "unlimited" subscription plan.