Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Cellphones Communications The Almighty Buck

Verizon To Charge Content Providers $.03 Per SMS 260

An anonymous reader writes "It appears that Verizon is going to start double-dipping by charging both consumers AND content providers for SMS text messages. Verizon has informed content partners that it will levy a $.03 charge for messages sent to customers, effective November 1. From RCRWireless: 'Countless companies could be affected by the new fee, from players in the booming SMS-search space (4INFO, Google Inc. and ChaCha) to media companies (CNN, ESPN and local outlets) to mobile-couponing startups (Cellfire) to banks and other institutions that use mobile as an extension of customer services.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Verizon To Charge Content Providers $.03 Per SMS

Comments Filter:
  • email? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mangu ( 126918 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:13PM (#25331873)

    Did they send an email informing everyone of this?

  • Most companies have email to text capability, that I use regularly (much easier than typing, even on a qwerty keypad). How would they extend fee to an incoming email-to-text message? Or will that very convenient service be dropped?
    • Re:Email to Text? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by COMON$ ( 806135 ) * on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:29PM (#25332125) Journal
      Ya but dont forget that that e-mail to txt is MORE expensive as you need a data plan. oh and data plans for alltel went up to about $44 a month to match their competitors. Either way the cell companies are gouging us on a service that we already pay for. Check it out:

      You pay a service contract fee for a data line.

      You pay an extra fee for using that data line to send SMS messages

      You pay and extra fee to use that data line to send http, pop, smtp, https traffic

      You pay an extra fee on top of that if you want to use that data line to connect a computer

      All at fees that are going up exponentially while cost per bit goes down for the company, I would love to see those margins. This is what is going to happen to your internet service soon people.

      • Re:Email to Text? (Score:4, Informative)

        by GenP ( 686381 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:44PM (#25332293)
        Blackberry on T-Mobile, $55/mo for basic voice and unlimited data, no contract. No SMS either, but that's where the unlimited data comes in.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PitaBred ( 632671 )

          Seconded. And there's no surcharge for using the GPS capabilities of your device, or for tethering it to your computer as a modem. Verizon nickel and dimes you with all of their "additional" services. The only thing they have as a benefit is better coverage, and that's rapidly waning. I'll deal with not having coverage as far into the mountains as Verizon does if it means I save $50/mo on the same services.

      • Re:Email to Text? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Drathos ( 1092 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:53PM (#25332391)

        He's not talking about emailing from your phone. He's talking about sending an email to your phone that gets delivered as a text message. Big difference. There's no data plan involved.

        Verizon will send a text message to my phone if someone sends an email to <my number>@vtext.com and happily charge me for it, even if it's spam. There's no way for them to charge the sender.

      • No he means that right now for most carriers you can send an email from the internet to the user's phone number @ their carrier, and they will get an SMS on their phone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by stabiesoft ( 733417 )

          T-Mobile lets you change yourNumber@t-mobile.com to nickname@t-mobile. It stopped spam instantly when I did this because I only gave my nick to a few people. Very nice feature. Other providers may do this as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      Most of the rest of the world doesn't charge to receive SMS, only to send it. The receiver's network charges the sender's network a small amount for each one (although the big networks don't pay anything). The only email to SMS gateways either charge money or are run by the networks themselves. A few tried to be bidirectional - receive SMS messages (and charge the sending network) and then forward them to email, but I don't know of any of these that still survive since people only used them one way.
      • i've always been curious how those e-mail to SMS gateways worked. back in the 2.5G days i came upon a few websites that charged people to download .mmf (SMAF/polyphonic) ringtones. basically you had to give the website your credit card info + cellphone number + service provider (i think), and then the ringtone or wallpaper that you purchased would be sent to your phone in an MMS text message from that website.

        i never could get myself to pay $2-3 for midi or polyphonic-quality ringtones, especially for songs

  • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:15PM (#25331889) Homepage
    ONLY the sender should be charged for SMS. You can't choose which ones you receive so why should you pay for them?
    • by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:17PM (#25331927)

      You seem to be under the misapprehension that Verizon has some sort of policy regarding "fairness".

      They also charge you for incoming calls. Even if they're wrong numbers.

      Also I hear that 0.02 = 0.0002.

    • by svnt ( 697929 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:24PM (#25332041)

      While we're pony-wishing, I want to be able to choose which companies are charged how much to send me a text message.

      Google-411: $0.00
      Verizon: $1.50

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fastolfe ( 1470 )

      For unsolicited messages, I agree. But what if you're trying to take advantage of a "free" SMS service (like Google)? You're soliciting that SMS response. Why should the content provider pay to respond? They may not be making any money off of that. Making them pay means many of them will simply go away, which I think would be a shame.

      But for all of those "sign up to receive SMS spam from us" services, I agree that there ought to be a way to shift some of those costs onto them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mdmkolbe ( 944892 )

        How about this plan: Receiver specifies a white list. SMS from a white-listed sender charges the receiver otherwise it charges the sender. Also provide a way for the sender to check if a receiver has them white listed.

        With this plan spammers gets charged, but you can pay for any opt-in services you want by white-listing them.

        (Yes, I realize how close this is to many e-mail spam prevention proposals. However, I think that since the SMS infrastructure is already doing accounting, this sort of thing mi

        • Or how about this plan: The provider charges the receiver a flat rate for each SMS. The receiver creates a ruleset describing the amount to charge each sender. The sender indicates the maximum amount they're willing to pay when they send the SMS. Simple rulesets (sender pays, 50/50, whitelist) can be generated automatically.

          This would work best if senders could be easily categorized (static, customer-provided info) and tagged (dynamic, user-provided info). It wouldn't be very practical to require everyone t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Firehed ( 942385 )

          Better idea: you're already paying an outrageous amount for data services (yes, voice is data), and as text messages are well under a kilobyte even with various overhead, they should all be free. Period. Even at 1c/1000 messages, they'd still be turning a hefty profit, percentage-wise anyways. If Amazon charges 10c/GB for S3 traffic and doesn't lose money, cell carriers can easily get away with 1c/MB - it's not up to their usual levels of extortion, but it's still basically free money.

          Seriously, data is

      • That's the point. Verizon wants to control ALL the services going on on it's network. You think they remove the GPS and modem-tethering on the Blackberry 8830 "world" edition for shits and giggles? They do it so they can charge you for what should be a feature simply native to the device, and do it in their own, inferior way.

      • ``But what if you're trying to take advantage of a "free" SMS service (like Google)?
        Their problem for being free.

        ``You're soliciting that SMS response.``
        Which they made available as a service to you.

        ``Why should the content provider pay to respond?``
        Because they're the one doing the sending... it's really not that hard to grok.
        If I send a 'free' SMS to somebody, and that person didn't desire to get that SMS either from that service provider -or- from me as the true 'originating party', then why on earth sho

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

        I agree that there ought to be a way to shift some of those costs onto them.

        There is, but it will require a drastic change in the way the FCC does business.

        I'd also like them to require telecoms to post the actual cost I'm going to be charged for a cellular contract instead of the bogus "39.95 per month" that they're currently allowed to advertise.

    • by Drathos ( 1092 )

      The cell provider industry in the US is all about double-dipping. Pay to send and receive phone calls, text messages, whatever. Receiving anything should not be charged since you have ZERO control over who calls or texts you.

    • Here in Canada two of our three providers started charging 15 cents for every message received. Hooray for deregulation and the open market!

    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:06PM (#25332551)
      Verizon is a CELL PHONE PROVIDER. When you make (or receive) a cell phone call you burn minutes whether you made (or received) that call. Cell phone companies have been double-dipping for decades. This BS is no different.

      Bloodsuckers, all of them.
    • by cervo ( 626632 )
      AT&T used to have this policy but after it was bought out by Cingular it went away. Now that AT&T is back together the policy is nowhere to be seen.
  • by smclean ( 521851 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:16PM (#25331909) Homepage

    Two Verizon stories in a row, neat.

    Does anything prevent content providers from using the email-to-SMS gateways to send messages for free? I know some companies who do this...

    It requires the customer to tell you their carrier of course, and you need to have an up-to-date list of email-to-SMS gateway addresses for each carrier, but hey, it's free.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Yes, Verizon will just ban any MTA that sends them more than n messages per month where n is small (say a few thousand).
    • by timotten ( 5411 )

      I was once solicited by a firm that sold a wrapper for email-to-SMS gateways. Their sales team said that they'd been relaying a high volume of traffic for few years without incident. The claim seemed credible (although I felt the firm was slightly shady).

      In any case, there's a lot of issues with email-to-SMS that can be resolved by negotiating a relationship with a gateway/carrier. As you mentioned, the content provider needs to maintain information about the user's carrier. Other differentiators:

      • WAP push
  • but now everyone i know pretty much can email with their phones. and if not, there's an sms-email gateway, where you type their [phone number]@vzw.net or something like that. of course they have to pay for that, but if they reply, it comes in as a regular email, so you don't have to pay anything

    such that i'm thinking of shunning sms use completely

    sms is a wonderfully useful little signalling protocol... if it weren't being milked to death. so it will be discarded from general use, killed off by the phone company

    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      I recently switched from T-mobile's Sidekick data plan (with unlimited SMS) to AT&T Wireless for the iPhone's data plan which does not include any SMS. After receiving my first SMS spam within 7 days of having the phone, I called and had the charges removed and then told them to disable all SMS.

      I really want those carriers to explain to regulators how they feel that they can get away with charging .20/SMS or $5 for 200.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Regular mail will be charged for as people move away from SMS.

  • by dfm3 ( 830843 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:18PM (#25331935) Journal

    So, by Verizon Math, $.03 is equal to $3 dollars, right?

  • Post Office Tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spikenerd ( 642677 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:19PM (#25331957)
    In the 90's there was an email circulating around claiming that the US Post Office was going to charge a fifteen cent tax on every email sent. I laughed myself silly about people that were actually stupid enough to believe it. If it ever happened, I was sure we could just encode emails so they wouldn't recognize them. Now, that I see people are actually stupid enough to *PAY* fifteen cents to send a message over the same lines on which they speak for free, it's not quite so funny anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fermion ( 181285 )
      If I understand this correctly, this applies to commercial business partners. All that will happen is business partners that no longer find value in the relationship will leave. The analogy would be mass marketers moving from the post office to email (spam).

      I do not see how verizon could bill an arbitrary commercial interest to send a message to a customer on it's network. Even if they did identify the interest, there would be no contract established, so even though they could bill, it is unclear if th

    • They aren't quite the same lines (signaling channel vs. voice channels). And text is not the same as voice... I have a very hard time gleaning and remembering information from speaking with someone. Text me the address I should go do, and it's much easier. Other people are different, but I find it much easier to get and remember info textually than by speaking to someone.

  • Will this apply to AIM sent text messages [engadget.com] as well (if not, expect these people to automate it that way)? To send a text message from AIM, just open an IM to +11235551212 (+1, then the phone number without dashes). Or messages sent from Verizon's website [vzw.com]?

  • FINALLY! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jskora ( 1319299 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:20PM (#25331971)
    It seems only fair that the senders of messages should be charged regardless of whether they are content providers or consumers. Why should a peer-to-peer twit be charged more than an ESPN score update?
  • Just crazy... (Score:5, Informative)

    by apathy maybe ( 922212 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:21PM (#25331975) Homepage Journal

    I never understood the "pay to receive" idea in the first place.

    Anyway, in Australia (at least with one of the companies), you have two types of message. The ones that someone sends to you, and they pay for it. Then there are "premium" services (such as weather, news, games whatever), which you pay to request.

    Charging to send AND receive? Greedy bastards should be lined up against the wall and shot.

    Viva le revolution!

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      I still remember a time when you got charged if your cell phone RANG... Not that you answered.. just that it connected at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I never understood the "pay to receive" idea in the first place.

      Simple, it goes like this.

      In most of the world, cell phones are placed in a different area code (or whatever the equivalent of an area code is in a particular country), and if you want to dial a cell phone from a landline, the wireless carrier bills a settlement fee back to the landline carrier, and that fee is included in the price of a call to that area code.

      In the United States and some other places, they didn't bother to do that. Instead

  • by blzb ( 311781 ) <philetus.gmail@com> on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:21PM (#25331981) Homepage

    so now verizon is charging other people money to *call you*. aren't you alrady paying verizon to have a phone number just so people can call you and send you messages.

    you would have to be a real sucker to let verizon charge your friends and associates money to communicate with you, on top of what they are already paying *their* phone company to send the message in the first place.

  • by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:24PM (#25332039) Journal

    With email on your phone so common, why would you even want SMS and all it's limitations and cost?

    • I dont have a full data plan yet, so email would be more expensive. As the rates for SMS keep going up, pretty soon the extra $45 for the data plan will be a cost saving feature for me.

      Oh, I happen to be looking for a new cell company, and this makes it a lot easier for me to not chose verizon as my next carrier.

      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        That's pretty much what happened with me and my friend. My contract expired and I picked up a smartphone plan with unlimited data & sms. With unlimited SMS i hardly ever use more than 200 of my 1000 minutes a month. For less than $70/mo. I also find I use gmail/email/gchat a lot more as an integrated communication solution. $45 is about the top end for a data plan these days. It seems expensive, but being able to use your phone whenever you like without any inhibitions really makes the value shine.

  • by 99luftballon ( 838486 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:25PM (#25332063)
    What is it with US telcos and SMS. SMS was an accidental hit in Europe; an engineering tool that people discovered and used free. Now the telcos over there have modest charges for sending it and rake in billions each year. But in the US first they tried to charge for sending and receiving, then massively increased the cost and now this. What is it US telcos have against SMS, I genuinely don't understand?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      nothing, they just charge as much as people will let them get away with. like every other company.

  • Timing is suspect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:28PM (#25332107) Homepage Journal

    I know I need to loosen my tinfoil hat, but the article specifically mentions the Obama campaign's reliance on SMS as an organizational tool. I think it's safe to say that Verizon and its little friends are big fans of the current surveillance-friendly administration, seeing as how the W administration just gave the telcos the world's largest "Get Out Of Jail Free" card with their little "retroactive immunity" bill.

    Verizon couldn't have waited until December? Or November 15? Or November 5? No, they flip the switch just in time to make it more difficult for tech-savvy candidates (largely Democratic, hmmm) to send "don't 4get 2 vote!" reminders to their followers. Obama won't have any problems -- he could likely afford the "Free-2-End-User" service -- but smaller campaigns might have to drop their SMS reminder plans completely.

    Of course, I'm suspicious of the way gas prices suddenly drop in October of years divisible by 4, too. :)

    • by xant ( 99438 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:35PM (#25332191) Homepage

      I think it's safe to say that Verizon and its little friends are big fans of the current surveillance-friendly administration, seeing as how the W administration just gave the telcos the world's largest "Get Out Of Jail Free" card with their little "retroactive immunity" bill.

      *sigh* Obama voted for it. (I'm voting for him anyway.)

      Of course, I'm suspicious of the way gas prices suddenly drop in October of years divisible by 4, too. :)

      They drop every October. Every September, too. People drive more in the summer.

      • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:47PM (#25332335) Journal

        Hey Pal! Stop posting facts to counteract Slashdot's Messiah Worship / conspiracy theory groove thing!

      • Why not vote for someone who actually represents what you want, then, rather than the "lesser of two evils"? The only way we'll get change is by voting what we want, rather than defensively. We vote defensively, we will get one of the choices that are dictated, rather than the ones we actually want.

    • Verizon couldn't have waited until December? Or November 15? Or November 5? No, they flip the switch just in time to make it more difficult for tech-savvy candidates (largely Democratic, hmmm) to send "don't 4get 2 vote!"

      The letter states that it will still be free to non profit organizations. Of course, the presidency is a FOR-profit organization but that is neither here nor there.

    • Right like either campaign can not afford it. Obama just spend almost 1 million on a 30 min tv spot. I doubt the $.03 is going to kill any one. Besides do you not think this effects both campaigns.
  • This is an outrage! If we let this continue eventually they'll charge both content providers and consumers for internet bandwidth.
  • If we're really lucky, this will destroy the SMS market completely and SMS will become only a quaint memory, like CB radios.


  • Everyone knows that SMS is a cash cow for the telcos.

    In fact, some content providers, occasionally compared to massive primates, have a reputation for approaching telcos offering partnerships to provide data notice over SMS services through them (emai alerts, weather, stock, etc.) in exchange for a slice of the revenue pie from the receiving customer.

    Furthermore, mapping a MSISDN (phone number) to carrier, and thus the internet-facing SMS Gateway, is a paid service that third paries provide -- content provi

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:37PM (#25332209)

    As a consumer, there are a number of carriers available. If you don't like Verizon's policies, just switch to one of the other US providers like AT&T/Sprint/T-Mobile. But this fee seems designed to soak service providers to Verizon's customers. They are much more likely to bend over and do some yodeling rather than forego the ability to sell things (or display ads/information) to Verizon customers.

    Just another in the long series of customer unfriendly business decisions made by Verizon's management.


  • Phone companies would never rearrange pricing structures on hugely popular services just to wring more money from other companies that use them! I mean, look at SMS!

    Anyway...even if they did, the "free market" would correct it...right?

    I can't wait until I have "Premium" Internet with all those "High Definition" websites - it'll be sooooo much better. The phone company promised!

    • Exactly -- it's like they're channelling Ed Whitacre's "they're my pipes, you'll have to pay to reach my customers!" argument [arstechnica.com]:

      How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion

  • The only reason I would agree with this model, and with the same model to be implemented into email messages, is to be able to avoid having spam as we know it. Imagine the guy that wants to use someone else's account, it would take very little time if someone charged up a whole bunch of emails even at .0001 cent it would still trigger a flag somewhere that I am being charged for emails I am not making, or that the spammers would have to make a whole lot more money then this to stay afloat.

  • At last something that might reduce spim.
  • So .03 absorbs cost involved... But they charge their own customers .40 per message. .20 to send and .20 to receive. Interesting...
  • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:03PM (#25332519)
    Is there a way to send/receive SMS over a data connection in a manner that preserves all of the customs of conventional SMS (eg, send message to phone number from ordinary phone)? I seem to remember having the choice of using GPRS as the "data bearer" for SMS on one of my old phones, though I can't seem to find it on my current phone...
    • As a little followup: I use my phone exclusively in UMTS mode, so I'm never using the GSM network with it's transmission of SMS through the expensive paging channel. In UMTS, as I'm sure is the case for all of the 3G networks, SMS is just treated like any other low priority data [umtsworld.com], so the justification for charging more for transmission loses its meaning. I wonder if the telecom companies plan to keep charging so much for SMS long after the "need" to charge for it has evaporated (actually, I'm sure that th
    • >Is there a way to send/receive SMS over a data connection in a manner that preserves all of the customs of conventional SMS (eg, send message to phone number from ordinary phone)?

      Check this article [ghacks.net].

  • Cell phone companies have forever been charging people to send AND receive phone calls, text messages, etc, as well. Isn't this just making everything else in line with that?
  • Its working so well for comcast and their customer screwing, it was just a matter of time before the practice spreads.

  • Article is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alereon ( 660683 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:14PM (#25332647)

    This does not affect mobile-to-mobile SMS, consumers will not see any charges (unless the content provider chooses to recover costs from consumers). My understanding is that this fee will be 3 cents for every premium or standard-rated SMS sent from a shortcode to a Verizon subscriber, unless the message is from a non-profit/charity or is "Free to End-User" (whatever that means, I don't know the difference between an F2EU SMS and a standard-rated SMS).

    My biggest concern is that we're not going to be able to stop this, and once Verizon adopts this policy every other carrier will as well. This has the potential to seriously affect the mobile content industry.

  • ... because the cost of providing SMS infrastructure is so astronomical compared to that for digitized voice services! How could they not attempt to recoup at least a small fraction of that huge expense?

    This is why I love unrestrained capitalism and despise anything that hints of socialism.

    (No, I'm not happy to see you, that's my facetious tongue in cheek.)

  • by rcastro0 ( 241450 ) on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:44PM (#25332951) Homepage

    This is another chapter in the war between SMS and IM. Which will be won by the latter, I guess.

    Anyway, Verizon is probably reacting to services like this [ghacks.net] which makes sending SMS from an IM client free. Install an IM client on your phone and you have free SMS.

    In the long run, my guess is, we will be all using IM clients to text each other in cell phones. They will consume (a small amount of) bandwidth from our 3G data plans. They will allow us to communicate not only with other cellulars, but with computers, PDAs, and other network devices. And they allow us to text someone in the other side of the world just as easily as in the same city.

    SMS may be living a brief moment of glory under the sun. Unless, of course, operators decide to charge it more competitively -- soon.

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada