You know, I don’t tend to buy into the whole “corporations are blood sucking monsters out to get us” routine, for the simple reason that nothing is that cut and dried. Having said that, I have to wonder exactly what kind of jerk is running things over at Bell Canada right now. Since charging us for sending text messages wasn’t enough, now they’re going to charge us to receive them as well. From the article:
Cellphone users are about to be hit with new fees as two of Canada’s telecommunications giants plan to bring in a levy on incoming text messages.
Bell Mobility will begin charging customers 15 cents per incoming text message on Aug. 8. Telus Mobility is moving to the same billing practice effective Aug. 24. Until now, their pay-per-use customers who send text messages have been charged a 15-cent fee per message, but it hasn’t cost anything to receive them.
You know, that’s bad enough, but the comment by the Telus spokesperson later in the article really had me scratching my head in impotent rage:
Telus Mobility spokesperson AJ Gratton cites this rapid growth [ed: mentioned earlier] as the reason for the new charge.
“The growth in text messages has been nothing short of phenomenal,” Gratton said, noting Canadians send more than 45 million text messages per day. “This volume places tremendous demands on our network and we can’t afford to provide this service for free anymore.”
Okay, let’s stop to think about this for a second. In fact, let’s begin by going back to the second paragraph I quoted above: “Until now, their pay-per-use customers who send text messages have been charged a 15-cent fee per message, but it hasn’t cost anything to receive them.”
So right off the bat, Gratton is already either lying or stupid: customers are already paying to send the messages, so Bell and Telus receive money every time a message is sent over their wires. If the customer is on a plan with a number of text messages per month, then the cost of the messages is already being folded into their contract price. Where is this “free service” suddenly coming from?
Second, Gratton points out that Canadians send a lot of text messages every day. But now Bell and Telus are getting you coming and going: there’s a 100% increase in the price of a text message, though the cost is now split between the person sending it and the person receiving it. Are Bell and Telus really trying to tell us that text messaging costs so much that it requires a 100% price increase? And if it does, why does this cost get shuffled off to the poor schlub who receives the text message and has no opportunity to refuse it? You can refuse to pick up a phone call if you don’t want to use your minutes, but a text message is received whether the person receiving it wants it or not. (As far as I know, neither Bell nor Telus has a way of blocking specific senders, though I am open to correction on that). The outraged customers quoted in the article point out, quite rightly, that some shady companies will spam your cell-phone with text messages. Can you imagine being charged by your ISP for every spam e-mail that you received? It would make the Internet a financially unworkable proposition for just about everyone on the planet. I know that cell-phone text spam is nowhere near as prevalent, but even I’ve gotten a couple, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay Bell for the privilege of being advertised at against my will.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, in other “Bell is out to screw you with your pants on” news, Ars Technica is reporting on the public comments regarding Bell’s P2P throttling. I’ve been keeping my eye on this one, since I do use BitTorrent to play with new Linux distros and I know that BitTorrent is a useful protocol that is starting to show up and more and more in legitimate venues. Predictably, Telus and Rogers are on Bell’s side, saying that this is a non-issue, while some surprisingly big players like Google have showed up on the other side to make their views heard. Google levelled a broadside at Bell and its cronies (from the Ars article):
Google has a different take. In its view, the dispute isn’t just about contract terms between ISPs; it is also about the general issue of Bell’s P2P throttling. Consumers “pay to use the Internet as they choose,” writes Google, and “there is no reason that P2P applications should be treated as second class and that a Canadian carrier should be able to decide unilaterally to degrade their performance, contrary to the end users’ choice.”
The Ars Technica article is a good read, and I suggest that you head on over there and give it a look. I’ll be locked in my bathroom, waiting for Bell to come barcode me and charge me for even daring to breathe into my cell phone.
(photo credit: Michiel2005)