Is AT&T charging separately for iPhone 3G SMS a mistake?

“So Apple called today, a little annoyed with my portrayal yesterday of AT&T’s iPhone pricing. The main difference on plans for the new iPhone versus the old are simple: The data plan is $10 more a month, mainly because the faster connection will mean higher data usage; And text messaging is charged separately,” Arik Hesseldahl blogs BusinessWeek.

“First there’s the data. IPhone users are traditionally heavy data users — mainly because of the iPhone’s excellent Web browser, no argument there. Faster pipes will mean even heavier usage, the thinking goes, and I’m inclined to agree on that point. AT&T spent a lot of money to build out its 3G network, and is entitled to make it back,” Hesseldahl writes.

“The other main difference this time around is that SMS text messaging has been pulled out as a separate billing item,” Hesseldahl writes. “Is this a mistake on AT&Ts part? I certainly think so. Charging fees for text messaging outside the usual data charges will only drive users to use instant messaging. There’s little doubt in my mind that Apple will bring an iChat client to the iPhone, hopefully sooner rather than later, and AOL has already demonstrated an instant messaging client that should debut soon. Plus there are other options, including Beejive’s Web-based application. Dear AT&T: This is a dumb idea, okay?

More in the full article here.


  1. “Is AT&T;charging separately for iPhone 3G SMS a mistake?”


    Add on top of that the inability (still) to send picture messages.

    I really wish AT&T;/Apple would give people the option of activating 3G and then having the option to pay for it. There is no 3G service where I live or work and therefore NO sense in paying for something I’ll never use.

    The above reasons are why I will not buy an iPhone. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks along these lines.

  2. They did some research in the UK and its cheaper to get data from the Hubbell space telescope than to the same in SMS. The phone companies make an absolute fortune from ripping us off.

    Here’s hoping the EU commissioner screws them over again as she did for roaming rates.

  3. This is no different than if you had a Blackberry instead of the iPhone. We got spoiled with the “original” iPhone and the plan pricing. We need to just deal with the idea that AT&T;is going to treat this just like any other “smart” phone, and realize our “smart” phone is truly smart.

  4. Many have suggested that it’s not fair for AT&T to charge for 3G where coverage doesn’t exist. However, there’s no way for AT&T to prevent abuse here. Mobile phones are, well, mobile. You may live outside of 3G coverage, but work within a covered zone. You may, in your daily routine, frequently enter the zone and connect to 3G network. As there is no way for AT&T to configure their networks and phones to check/authenticate based on the account status, your phone will automatically connect to 3G wherever there is a signal, unless you turn off that 3G radio yourself.

    As for SMS special charge, that’s just a rip-off. There is absolutely no justification for this change.

  5. I swear, ATT is going to be the death of the iPhone in America if they keep this nickel and dime-ing crap . . .

    ATT has this HUGE opportunity to take more market share from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc., but if they don’t have attractive plans, people are going to shy away . . .

    Apple needs to take more control over the issue, be an MVNO . . .

    Please refresh the iPod touch soon . . . please!!!

  6. MDN:

    The html ‘feature’ in your comments submission field that turns out AT&T into AT&T;is getting a bit tiresome. We seem to be discussing AT&T a lot these days and that semicolon messes it up. Is there any chance this could somehow be fixed (for example, exclude all html escape characters that begin with ‘&’)?

    As for other contributors here, if you wish to enter AT&T without that trailing semicolon, you may copy and paste this into your text:


    Let’s see if this comes out the way it’s supposed to…

  7. they fscking dont get it. People will pay a lot. No problem. But they want to nail down the cost. I said fscking nail it down. These chicken nickle and diming is sophomoric and plain dumb.

  8. @ M@c;

    Perhaps you should call AT&T;before you decide not to buy an iPhone. They have said before now that if the 3G network is NOT available in your billing zip code, you will NOT be billed the $30, but will be charged only for the EDGE that is available where you are.

  9. re: rahrens –

    I could see how this might lead to a lot of potential abuse; find a relative or a friend who lives not far from you, but is out of 3G coverage, sign up with that home address, get that $30 down to $20 and take your phone anywhere. I have a hard time believing that AT&T would actually make this kind of exception. Let’s see…

  10. More than 7 billion SMS a day and counting.

    Until they are picked up, somebody has to store them. So until storage is free, I would gather that if you like to text message, you have to help pay for it.

  11. Yes, if AT&T;insists on continuing to charge for text messages it must give us a way to BLOCK all incoming messages with an auto reply to the sender stating as such. charging 20¢ for something that actually costs the company $0.0001 per message should prove to create more bad-will toward the company than the greedy little profits that they might see…

    This reason, and this reason alone, lead me to yearn the day when AT&T;doesn’t have a monopoly on the iPhone in the US. Screw you AT&T;.

  12. The answer to the article’s title question: HELL YES!

    In fact, I, for one, will not be upgrading to a new iPhone precisely due to this crap extra $5/month charge. People text me (I rarely text back, but unfortunately ATT doesn’t give a crap if I have no control over getting text messages) so I’d have to pay the extra tariff for a few BYTES of data being sent over their lines.

    An absolute rip-off and I won’t be upgrading now. Thanks a bunch, you idiots: you lost a sale with that attitude.

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