Verizon Wireless Raises Corporate Text Messaging Fees

The fee boost for subscribers is expected to be particularly difficult on startups entering a crowded market for providing mobile services.
Verizon Wireless is considering a substantial increase in fees companies pay for sending text messages and content to the carrier's subscribers.

In a notice sent to partners Wednesday and published by RCR Wireless News, Verizon Wireless said it would charge 3 cents for every MT -- or mobile terminated -- message sent to its subscribers. This would apply to any commercial company that sends message alerts, search results, news, sports, or any other content. Nonprofit organizations would not be charged.

On Friday, a Verizon Wireless spokesman said the message was not the final world on the increase, which is still under consideration. "That draft was intended to stimulate internal business discussions and in no way should have been released to the public and represented as a final document," he said in an e-mail.

RCR reported that companies sending text messages and other content today typically pay from a fraction of a penny to a few cents a message, a rate that Nelson did not challenge. The spokesman said an increase, which would be the first since the service began in 2003, was under consideration "to offset significantly increased costs for delivering billions upon billions of text messages each month."

A fee boost could be particularly difficult on startups entering a crowded market for providing mobile services. Large Internet companies, such as Google and Yahoo, are unlikely to enjoy paying more to reach users, as well as traditional media companies that send news alerts and other content, such as CNN or ESPN.

The Verizon Wireless notice reported by RCR was distributed by Open Markets, which handles billing issues for Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and others. Verizon Wireless is the second-largest wireless carrier in the United States.

Text-messaging fees for consumers have been rising steadily, prompting antitrust queries by Congress and a number of class-action lawsuits. In the European Union, regulators have proposed a mandatory slashing of prices mobile phone service providers charge for cross-border text messaging among the EU's 27 countries.

This article was edited on Oct. 10 to include statements made by Verizon Wireless.