AT&T's text messages cost $1,310 per megabyte

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Check out the prices for a text message plan on AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 3G in the United States. AT&T wants twenty cents ($0.20) per text message if you don’t sign up for a plan. A text message is nothing more than 160 bytes of data. The max is 160 characters, and one character equals one byte of data. Great.

Again, AT&T is charging you twenty cents for 160 bytes of data. To illustrate how absurd that is, consider the following.

If 160 bytes of data costs twenty cents then 1MB (1,048,576 bytes) of data would cost 131,072 cents, or $1,310.72.

In other words, if AT&T charged data downloads at the rate they charge text messages downloading 1MB of data would cost you $1,310.72.

That math assumes you max out each text message you send. AT&T will charge you twenty cents whether you use all 160 characters, or simply write “K“ to your friend. Multiply $1,310.72 by 160 if you really want to freak out. That works out to $209,715 per megabyte. Chump change.

May I suggest everyone complain to AT&T about this? It seems so dishonest, twenty cents for 160 bytes of data.

Other fun: at $5 for 200 text messages you’re paying 2.5 cents per text message. At $15 for 1,500 text messages you’re paying 1 cent per text. All that makes $20 for unlimited texts—when are you ever going to send more than 1,500 text messages in a month?—“seem” like a deal. It’s not.

Bottom line is, AT&T is absolutely screwing each and every one of you with these text messages prices. I don’t want to say they should be free, but there’s no way they should cost what AT&T charges.

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