You may have noticed that your cell phone bill just jumped again. Well, I did. Calls to Wasilla, Alaska? Nope. Too much Web surfing in the back of taxi cabs? Not me.
The culprit, I discovered, was AT$T's text messaging fees. The company jumped them 25 percent. And I'm not the only one who noticed the sudden, inexplicable price increase. Herb Kohl also noticed. And Herb isn't just some long-haired journalist.
Mr. Kohl (D-WI) is the chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And like any citizen who suddenly gets gouged, Herb wanted to know why. So he sent an official letter to the four largest US carriers insisting that they justify the price increases. Indeed, when Herb looked into it, he noted that the cost of a text message has actually doubled since 2005. So did the cost of running the networks suddenly double too? (Future USA Today hed: Fuel Prices Hit Texters.)
More suspicious, Senator Kohl is concerned that the four major carriers all seem to have increased their texting fees by roughly the same amount at roughly the same time. The invisible hand of the market economy, you say? Perhaps, but I'd love to see what the folks at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile come up with as an answer. Their homework is due back on October 6, and what do you want to bet all four letters will sound surprisingly similar?
So what can you do? Write letters as well, of course. Or perhaps stop texting and phone instead. After all, look at all the trouble a certain text happy mayor got into.