Kitty Wireless sent out an email today telling customers that effective September 18, 2012, the Verizon MVNO's $15/month Power Text Unlimited messaging add-on will be renamed Power Text 10,000 and be limited to 10,000 SMS text messages per month.
Power Text is an add-on to the Page Plus "Standard" pay as you go plan. Users exceeding the 10K limit will be charged 5¢ per message, which will be deducted from their cash balance if they have one. Users without a cash balance will be unable to send or receive texts until they add cash or their Power Text plan renews.
Current Power text Unlimited plan users will be switched to Power Text 10,000 the next time their Power Text add-on renews.
In addition, Page Plus will no longer sell Power Text 2000 or Power Text 10,000 PINs on their website or by phone. The Power Text add-on PINs will still be available through Page Plus authorized dealers such as Kitty Wireless and CallingMart. The special Power Text PIN is only needed to enroll in the plan. Once activated, Power Text plans renew automatically every month from your cash balance.
Ten thousands messages is about 333 per day. While that sounds like a lot, it's not hard to send that many particularly if you send messages to groups. A recent Pew Research Center report found that 18% of US teens send over 200 texts per day.
So why is Page Plus killing off the unlimited text add-on? After all, SMS messages use very little data, 10,000 texts is equal to 1.3 MB of data. On top of that texts are sent over signaling channels and they are only sent when those channels are inactive. Which means that texts don't consume any bandwidth that could be used for voice or data. I think unlimited texting is going away for a combination of three reasons:
SMS SPAM bots: I've noticed an increase in SMS text SPAM lately. It used to be that most of the SPAM texts I got came from email address or short codes, but now I'm getting SPAM mostly from real mobile numbers. I believe that SPAMers are setting up anonymous prepaid unlimited text plans and using smartphone apps to sent hundreds of automated SPAM texts per hour
Cost: Page Plus probably buys texts from Verizon in bulk for, lets say a tenth of a cent per message. Users who exceed 10,000 texts are deemed not profitable enough so Page Plus is instituting a cap to protect their bottom line.
Marketing: Page Plus would undoubtedly like to encourage users to switch to more expensive unlimited monthly plans that include both unlimited voice and messaging. Limiting the number of texts on Power Text makes a plan like Page Plus' $39.95 Unlimited Talk n Text a better deal for heavy texters, especially if they use a significant number of voice minutes, which cost 4-10¢/each on the Standard plan.
The changes to Page Plus' Power text Plans come less than a month after T-Mobile eliminated their $15/month Unlimited add on for pay as you go plans. Inexpensive unlimited text-only bundles seem to be an endangered species. The only ones left that I know of are from AT&T and Verizon, who still offer unlimited messaging as an add-on the their pay as you go plans for about $20/month. Unlike Power Text, the AT&T and Verizon bundles include MMS (picture) messaging but voice minutes are considerably more expensive (see the table below for details):
|Operator||Plan or Package||Network||Technology||Monthly Cost||Voice min.||SMS||Data|
|AT&T||Unlimited Messaging||AT&T||GSM||19.99||0.10||unlimited||1¢ per 5 KB ($2/MB)**|