Verizon Wireless is raising the text messaging rate for customers without a monthly texting plan to 15 cents per message sent or received, an increase of 5 cents.
The increase, slated for March 1, comes soon after identical price hikes by Sprint Nextel Corp. and AT&T Inc.'s Cingular Wireless, which raised the rate for pay-as-you-go texting from 10 cents per message to 15 cents.
T-Mobile USA still charges 10 cents per message sent or received for users without a texting plan.
In raising per-message rates, Verizon, Cingular and Sprint have left prices for their texting subscriptions unchanged, a sign they may be seeking a more reliable revenue stream by getting customers to opt for a monthly fee. At Verizon, for example, customers can pay from $10 to $20 a month for unlimited messaging to other Verizon cell phones plus an allowance of 500 to 2,500 messages to recipients outside the company's network.
It's unclear how many Verizon Wireless subscribers will be affected by the change. About half of the company's nearly 60 million customers use text messaging, but Verizon doesn't disclose how many do so without a monthly plan. Cingular, which is being renamed under the AT&T brand, doesn't disclose how many of its 61 million customers use text messaging, but has said more than half of those who send or receive one at least once a month do so on a pay-per-use basis.
Text messages are similar to e-mail except that they're sent to and from cell phone numbers rather than e-mail addresses. Most users type out messages by multi-tapping on a phone's number pad to choose letters, though many mobile devices such as the BlackBerry and Treo feature a full mini-keyboard.
Verizon Wireless is owned jointly by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC. T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG.