Articles

Phone Plans, Other Drivers, Computers

In Rant, Typical on 2008-01-29 by petervk

So, I just read this: Slashdot | The true cost of SMS messages and it made me a bit angry.

Basically what this is about is the crazy fees cellular providers charge for text messages. To help show this they compare the cost of data to a typical ISP. What would cost $1 to send over the internet costs $61 million dollars to send over SMS. (An increase of 61 million percent!)(duh…)

So that sounds a bit insane right? But then if you go down the slashdot discussion you get to this comment: I know! The author explains that SMS actually doesn’t cost the service provider anything to implement because it runs in extra space in the control network.

Whenever a Cell phone is on it is always communicating to the network, this allows the phone to ring when someone calls you. (the network knows where you are because the towers and the cell phone are constantly “talking”) Within these constant messages back and forth between the towers and your cell there is a bit of extra room for data, and this is where your under 160 character text messages fit. So, really there isn’t any extra load on the network, and no extra transmission to send or receive a text message as to just have your phone turned on, but yet they charge you at least $0.15 to send (and sometimes as much to receive)

So yeah. Once again a monopoly is screwing the consumers. Surprise, surprise.

Oh, and did you know that it doesn’t cost the phone operator any more money to route your call to Vancouver as it does to your next door neighbor? That’s another rip off.

I really don’t know what us Canadian consumers can do aside from avoiding texting or long distance as much as possible. What we (my wife and I) do is use the 2nd cheapest cell phone service in the country [1], and the cheapest long distance plan I can find [2]. I’m still getting ripped off, but at least I’m getting ripped off less then most other people.

Oh, and just so you know, the title is a bit of a poke at my wife. She says that whenever I get together with my Cousin all we talk about is phone plans, other drivers, and computers. I could bug her a lot more if it wasn’t true.

~Peter

[1] Cell Phone plans: The cheapest way* to go in Canada that I have found is Virgin Mobile. Buy the cheapest phone you can tolerate from them and then buy the $100/year card. This works out to $8.33/month (33 min/month OR 55 text messages /month). I didn’t know Virgin Mobile had $100/year prepaid cards so I went with PC Mobile. (Presidents Choice) (Yes, like the food) PC Mobile has a similar deal, buy a phone and then buy top up cards. The best deal is the $25/60 days card, which works out to ~$12.67/month (63 min/month OR 84 text messages/month)

[2] Long Distance: Yak Long Distance –  This is an awesome plan. $0.035/minute anywhere in North America, no monthly fee**, no system access charge, no dialing any access number. You just register your number with them, and then every long distance phone call you make is billed through them at their amazing rates. We don’t use a whole lot of long distance, but my monthly phone bill from bell is just under $25 and my Yak long distance is usually under $2. For $30/month we could do 142 hours of long distance a month, that’s over 4 hours a day, and it includes the land line which I need for my ADSL internet.

* Now, this is with the assumption that you don’t use your cell phone heavily. I have a cell phone because its convenient and useful, but I really don’t use it a lot. If you use your cell phone a lot, first try to limit your usage because you’re getting ripped off, and then compare plans carefully. Really, the best way to save money is to talk/text less. Use a landline whenever you can and e-mail.

** There is a fee of $1.95/month if you want a paper bill mailed to you. Otherwise they just e-mail you the bill for free.

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