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Texting prices could drop; teens' parents rejoice

The family of an average teen could save about $240 a year by switching to a free instant messaging app.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 10, 2011 2:06PM

This post comes fromKelli B. Grantat partner site SmartMoney.


The TXT IM (text instant message) is replacing the TXT MSG (text message), which could spell savings for parents of texting teens and other heavy users but eventually lead to extra charges on your data plan.


An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that carriers are facing a growing threat from free instant messaging programs like BlackBerry Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and Facebook that send messages over the Internet rather than through the carrier. Earlier this week, Apple announced it was creating a free instant messaging platform, too.


Users are still texting away -- they sent more than 1 trillion in the second half of 2010, according to CTIA, a wireless industry trade group -- but the 8.7% increase over the previous six months was the smallest gain since texting first took off. Analysts say they expect texting to continue to drop off as smartphone sales grow and more users turn to these apps as a way to slim the voice and text portions of their cellphone bills.


More than 3,300 texts per month

Right now, consumers can take advantage of those free messaging apps and others that cut calling costs to save, by our estimates, as much as $500 a year. The average American teen sends a whopping 3,339 texts per month; by switching to a free app like Yahoo Messenger or even Facebook, the family could save as much as $240 per year. Even the occasional texter on a $5-per-month plan would save $60. (The catch: To really save, everyone you would be texting needs access to the same program.) Post continues after video.

Text message plan costs are likely to drop in coming months, and could eventually be wrapped into voice plans as a free extra, says Todd Day, an industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan. But the savings from switching to a free instant messaging app are likely to be short-lived.


Carriers are moving away from unlimited data plans. Although instant messages use very little data, someone also using his phone to stream video or music could see his data bills increase. Carriers are also working to implement software that tracks down your data use by individual app, Day says. Consumers are likely to start seeing differentiated data plan add-ons -- broad ones like a few bucks extra for a streaming video or instant messaging package, or a more specific $X for unlimited Facebook or YouTube traffic.


Readers, what do you think about the prospect of being charged not just for how much data you use, but what apps you use it for?


More on SmartMoney and MSN Money:

Jun 11, 2011 4:07AM

SMS texting in the US is a scam anyway. Pricing is too expensive for the resources used and only the sending user should be charged... Any incoming texts should be free.

Jun 11, 2011 8:50AM
Texting is a complete scam which cost your providers nothing but which they charge there customers outrages prices for and the consumer buys it up like candy so why not charge the we are a society of suckers...
Jun 11, 2011 9:29AM
We just got rid of ATT and now use StraightTalk. $45 a month unlimited talk, text and data or $30 a month for 1000 talk minutes, 1000 texts and 30MB data. No hidden charges or taxes or anything. I hope enough people switch to put the greedy bastards out of business.
Jun 11, 2011 10:27AM

I thought most everyone had texting and internet grouped together.  And cells phones as a whole are over priced unless you get a good family play with 4 or 5 people.  But still on many carriers that is almost $50 per person.


Also I don't know why people put up with ATT and Verizon and them being priced so much higher than the rest.


I've been on Sprint for years and I am way cheaper than a similar plan on Verizon and with free roaming it's basically the same network.


Not to mention the smaller companies that make me consider switching.   No idea why people choose the most expensive networks.  And given ATT's dropped call issue I really don't get that.   Sad they are buying T-mobile but around here we didn't have them anyways because we have I-wireless which is an affiliate.

Jun 11, 2011 7:48AM

Time to get rid of the iphone, heck just time to get rid of the cell phone altogether.  Crying Smile  mixed emotions on that call.  Embarrassed


I was thinking of getting rid of the cell anyways when my contract is up.  Either I am at work or home.  No biggie.

Jun 11, 2011 11:08AM
Hey, they should make a, "NO-TEXTING",  section, just like the restuarants do with smoking!  LOL ,  Really why go to a theater if you're not going to watch the movie, at 8.00 to 9.00 a pop, you might as well pay that to your cell provider for more texting opportunities! 
Jun 11, 2011 11:04AM
Wonder how long before the governmen comes up with a subsidy plan for todays youth to text and stream even more.
Jun 11, 2011 11:20AM
My Wife And I Use Tracfone After A Dispute With Verizon (Bloodsuckers) We Will Never Sign A Contract For Cell Phone Usage Again!!!!!
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