Texting hearings reveal high cost - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Texting hearings reveal high cost

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WASHINGTON (WKOW)--It's estimated that teenagers exchange about 80 text messages a day.

Their parents have the bills to prove it.   "Probably 400 dollars from texting...yeah 400," says parent Charles Shelton.

And it's not just teens. More than 1 trillion texts were sent last year.

"Last month was a little painful for me... I got a 300 dollar bill," says frequent texter Bridget Bruno.

Lawmakers want to know why the rise in use has seen a corresponding rise in rates.

Tuesday, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl (D) chaired hearings in Washington.

"From 2006 to 2008 for the four major carriers the price has increased by 100 percent from 10 to 20 cents a message," he said.

Text messaging is extremely efficient, using less bandwith than almost any other service on a wireless network.

In fact, 600 text messages contain less data than a one minute phone call.   Still, a single text can cost as much as 20 cents.

"At 20 cents per text, those 600 messages would cost 120 dollars for the equivalent iof a one minute phone call," testified Joel Kelsey of Consumers Union.

But, ATT says 99 per cent of their customers don't pay per text. Instead they buy monthly plans which they say have gone down in cost.

"Indeed ATT's average price dropped almost 70 percent in 2 years," testified Wayne Watts of ATT.

Several dozen class-action lawsuits have been filed against wireless carriers alleging that they conspired to fix prices for text messages-- a charge the companies vehemently deny.

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