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Senator questions rising text-message rates

September 10, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A key Senate Judiciary Committee member is asking the nation's top four wireless carriers to justify the "sharply rising rates" they charge people to send and receive text messages.

In letters to Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc., Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said Tuesday that he was concerned that rising rates reflect decreasing competition in the wireless business.

Kohl leads the Judiciary antitrust and competition subcommittee. His inquiry comes as European Commission regulators threaten to impose a cap on roaming fees for text messages sent by Europeans traveling outside of their home nations, an effort to force prices down as much as 70%.

Kohl said he was concerned that consumers were paying more than 20 cents per message, up from 10 cents in 2005. This increase, he said, "does not appear to be justified by rising costs in delivering text messages," which are small data files that are inexpensive for carriers to transmit.

Kohl said he was particularly concerned that the companies seem to have adopted identical price increases at nearly the same time.

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