Bell, Telus to charge for incoming text messages
Published Tuesday, July 8, 2008 9:48PM EDT
Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility will soon begin charging their customers for incoming text messages under new pricing plans slated for August.
Bell will begin charging incoming text messages on August 8, while Telus's plan will come into effect on August 24.
The move will affect pay-per-use wireless customers who had previously only been charged for each message they sent.
Now, they will be charged the same amount, 15 cents, for every message they receive.
The change will not affect customers who have text messages bundled into their phone plans.
Bell and Telus say they had little choice but to bring in a new fee, given an explosion in the use of texting.
Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall told CTV News the reason for the "moderate charge" is to "recover the cost of the investment we're making in the network to handle the exponential growth in text messaging."
Bell spokesperson Jason Laszlo said almost all major North American wireless carriers have taken the same pricing approach.
"We are simply aligning ourselves with market realities," Laszlo wrote in an email to the Globe and Mail.
But a London, Ont.-based technology expert said the major cellphone carriers should have anticipated the growing popularity of text messaging and the strain it puts on wireless networks.
"I find it hard to believe that they have to resort to these charges after the fact when they probably should have seen this coming years ago and built it into their existing rate plans," Carmi Levy said in an interview on CTV Newsnet. "It sounds like a bit of nickel-and-diming."
A spokesperson with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) said the move probably won't bother so-called "heavy texters" who will already have a package that allows them to send and receive as many messages as they please.
But these new charges could spur others to start shopping for a better deal to avoid higher cellphone bills.
"People will go with the service provider that they think they're getting the best value with for the types of services that they want," CWTA spokesperson Marc Choma told CTV.ca.
Levy points out that for now, Canadians only have the big three wireless providers to choose from. However, within the next year or two, regional carriers will be competing for their hard-earned dollars.
"Once they do come on stream, there will be alternatives to Rogers, Bell and Telus and so if you don't like the offer that you're getting, if you don't like being charged for certain things, you can certainly take your business across the street," Levy said.
The age of text messaging dawned for Canadians in April of 2002, when wireless providers agreed to remove barriers to text messaging between cellphone carriers.
According to the CWTA, Canadians sent 352 million text messages in 2003. In 2007, they sent more than 10 billion.
In just the first three months of this year, Canadians sent more than four billion texts.
But those who like to communicate the old fashioned way, by talking, can block text messages on their phone or through their wireless account and ask for refunds when they are charged for unwanted messages.
Both phone companies point out if customers receive spam messages, they can contact customer care to have the charges removed from their bills.