Save Money, Send an IM

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about the cost of texting. And the wireless carriers have a few questions to answer. People who didn’t opt for the unlimited text plan – and who might also happen to have teenagers – have ended up paying huge fees as a result of rampant texting. Now, don’t ask me why they didn’t opt for the unlimited plan. You’d think it’d be the de facto option for anybody with a tech-savvy child. Mind you, I don’t have an unlimited text plan but then again, I’m on or around an internet connection just about the entire day. If I receive a text, I simply IM that person back.

Yes, for those of you who didn’t know: You can send an IM to a phone number. While this doesn’t save the other person from a possible text fee, it saves you money if you don’t have the unlimited plan and/or are over your limit.

What’s more, if you have an unlimited data plan, why bother with SMS at all? Just fire up the IM and text away. Granted, it has its limitations. A lot of people utilize SMS to send pictures and video. Still, with a data plan, you have access to the internet. Take the few steps necessary to find something on line.

A quick Google search led me to PixDrop.com. Granted, I don’t know them from any of the other sites and I’ve never used them.

PixDrop.com is a new tool, actually the first dedicated tool, that allows anyone and everyone to send pictures from their computer to their cell phone
or a friends cell phone as a picture message. Best of all, PixDrop is free. Read more.

Great. IM for texting. A site like PixDrop.com for sending photos. Done deal. What about video? I’m sure it’s out there. The point is: If you have an unlimited data plan, I see no reason why you would need an SMS plan. Okay, it’s more convenient. But $20 a month more convenient?

For $20 a month, you had better be a texting fiend. Forget actual conversations. Text. Get your money’s worth any way you can. The phone companies certainly are. Oh, by the way, that basic text your sending? Did I mention there’s virtually no cost to the carriers?

According to a NYTimes.com article:

. . . text messages are not just tiny; they are also free riders, tucked into what’s called a control channel, space reserved for operation of the wireless network.

That’s why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted. . . .

I recommend reading the entire article. It’s quite informative and was the impetus for this article. Mind you, I don’t mind paying for something when I know I’m getting a good deal. But all the information I’ve read thus far indicates that the $20/month is almost pure profit. I’d feel ripped off even more than I already do (read: taxes, fees, surcharges).

I currently pay a low $5/month for a smattering of texting. This is because I’m still behind the times and don’t have a data plan. But, as mentioned, I’m near an internet connection almost 24 hours a day. It’s not something I need. However, when I finally upgrade (Palm Pre, anyone?) and have a data plan, I will be experimenting. Stay tuned for the results.

In the mean time, I encourage you to take a look at your texting habits. Are you spending too much to text? Try sending an IM instead. Or better yet, call them!

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