Two of Canada's largest telecom companies, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp., announced yesterday they are proposing to charge cellular customers 15 cents for each incoming text message. Wanted or unwanted.
The implications for consumers are clear, but the implications for journalism are not far behind in being clear, either. If anyone wants to launch an underwritten text service or a for-a-fee text service, life is about to get much harder.
The Canadian Industry Minister, Jim Prentice, has weighed in today, saying the idea was "ill-thought" and stands to penalize consumers who are spammed or sent unsolicited content. He wants a meeting with the telcos to explain the matter, and one has to believe this will be a major regulatory matter quite soon. Canadian consumers have already been noisy about the arrival of the iPhone and the associated fees, and today the telecom carrying the iPhone, Rogers Inc., has altered its proposed data charges to permit a lower-cost plan.
Certain mobile technologies with journalistic applications have not caught on in Canada because the country has among the highest cellular fees for industrialized countries.
This latest text issue is far from over.