updated 10:30 pm EST, Thu January 14, 2010
Government will not take action
The Justice Department has finally completed its investigation over text messaging fees charged by carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, according to the Wall Street Journal. Industry and government officials familiar with the matter claim the Department's antitrust division has decided not to intervene, effectively leaving the carriers to continue business as usual.
The text-messaging rate inquiry had been spearheaded by Senator Herb Kohl, chairman of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee. The group pushed for investigation after the four largest carriers doubled their text messaging fees, with increases from 10 cents to 20 cents per message. Kohl argues that the cost to the phone companies has remained less than a penny per message.
Although the text messaging investigation appears to be finished for now, the government has since initiated several other probes into common industry practices. Verizon has been asked to explain its recent increase in early termination fees (ETFs) for smartphones, which now tops out at $350 for devices such as the Motorola Droid. The FCC claimed Verizon's justification was unsatisfying and sometimes "troubling."