Text Messaging? $1300 please…
Today, cellular text messaging is more popular than it’s ever been. But what most people don’t realize is exactly how much they are paying for this convenience.
The maximum size of a text message is 160 characters. And the average cost to send a text message is 20 cents (unless you have an text messaging bundle option on your cellular plan). 160 characters equals 160 bytes. This means that text messaging equates to approximately $1300 per megabyte. Compare this to your $30 a month IPHONE data plan, or your $55 a month Blackberry data plan that each allow 5 GIGAbytes of data (5 gigabytes is 5,000 MEGAbytes). You can see why text messaging is a cash-cow for cellular companies.
But there are ways to control this cost. Almost all cellular carriers offer a text message bundle that you can add to your plan that gives you a select number of text messages (sent and received) per month for a flat price. This will lower your cost per text message considerably, provided you stay below your bundle limit. Some bundles also offer unlimited text messaging — just make sure that you actually NEED unlimited text messaging. Otherwise you are just wasting money. The word “unlimited” is often very enticing, and offers peace of mind. But if you only send and receive 100 text messages in a month, it is much more cost-effective to choose a 100-200 text message bundle rather than the unlimited bundle.
Another new option, if you have a Blackberry device with a data plan, is to use Google Voice. The Google Voice service (still in Beta) allows you, among other neat features, to send text messages to any other cellular phone by using your phone’s data plan, COMPLETELY BYPASSING your cellular text messaging service, and the outrageous 20 cent per message charge. You just need to have a Google Voice phone number (currently available by invite only), and the free Google Voice Blackberry Mobile app. You can read more about it, and request an invite here :
Should the cellular companies start worrying? Let’s hope so. Maybe they will start charging reasonable rates for text messaging.