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Commentary

Spin Control: Verizon Wireless Backpeddles On SMS Rate Brouhaha

Yesterday, a report said that Verizon Wireless was set to begin charging companies 3 cents to send text messages through its network to end users. The news has brought about a furor, and today Verizon issued a statement hoping to set the record straight.
Yesterday, a report said that Verizon Wireless was set to begin charging companies 3 cents to send text messages through its network to end users. The news has brought about a furor, and today Verizon issued a statement hoping to set the record straight.It reads:

As Verizon Wireless continues to review the competitive marketplace, we constantly work to provide additional value to our customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

We are currently assessing how to best address the changing messaging marketplace, and are communicating with messaging aggregators, our valued content partners, our technology business partners, and, importantly, our friends in the nonprofit and public policy arenas.

To that end, we recently notified text messaging aggregators -- those for-profit companies that provide services to content providers to aggregate and bill for their text messaging programs -- that we are exploring ways to offset significantly increased costs for delivering billions upon billions of text messages each month.

Specific information in one proposal, which would impose a small per-message fee on for-profit content aggregators for commercial messages, has been mistakenly characterized as a final decision to implement. We don't envision this type of change to in any way affect nonprofit organizations or political and advocacy organizations.

We have not increased the per-message cost to aggregators since our messaging service began in 2003, and we have never envisioned a cost to consumers or content companies, but rather on content aggregators themselves. That draft was intended to stimulate internal business discussions and in no way should have been been released to the public and represented as a final document.

At Verizon Wireless, we strive to provide our messaging customers with maximum value, and work to implement business decisions that encourage the use of messaging between individuals and organizations in both the marketplace of ideas and the commercial marketplace, and we will continue to strongly encourage the use of our services by charitable organizations as they perform their good works.

The sentence in bold above was emboldened by me, not Verizon. In effect, Verizon Wireless is saying that the 3-cent fee is on the drawing board, but hasn't been written in ink yet. Given the pushback over the last 24 hours on the issue, I am very interested to see how this one plays out when all is said and done.