I’m really not surprised that this is happening. Not one bit.
For text messaging, being charged for incoming messages that you have no way of setting a white list, or block unknowns, or ways of controlling incoming messages means that anything that is incoming is out of your control. And if you can’t control it, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.
I haven’t the slightest clue what the carriers will try to defend with, since outside of the perspective of trying to get people to get on the ten to fifteen dollar extra a month, unlimited text messaging plans, there isn’t a good technical solution that does the above.
From a legal perspective though, I’d be curious if you target incorrectly towards certain carriers if that absolves all named in suit from liability (since it’s pointing the finger at the group). The reason for this is because, US Cellular (which is named in the lawsuit) doesn’t charge for incoming text messages. Sprint and apparently AT&T allow you to turn off text messaging completely (I definitely know for Sprint since I’ve done it for my parents).
Whether or not this lawsuit comes to fruition, it does bring up a great point though. Why does the consumer have to pay for incoming text messages? The carrier might answer that it’s similar to the delivery of a cellular call, but it isn’t. First, you don’t need to answer your phone. Second, while everyone believes that SMS is a two-way communication, it technically isn’t. 2-way designates that you actually get a receipt upon delivery so that you’re guaranteed that the packets have gone to their destination. Instant messaging is 2-way. Internet chatting is 2-way. Phone calls are 2-way. But not SMS. Ever have a text message that never got to the person you were sending it to? Just went into the void, didn’t it. 1-way communication.
In fact, most of the time, people assume that SMS is a timely communication form, but that isn’t true either. In all technicality, you can queue up SMS messages and burst them. If the person’s mobile can’t be found on a home system, there’s a good chance that it could be delayed messaging. Anyone with texting experience should have experienced this also in probably the first month of going at it.
Either way? I’m curious as to how the carriers pull this one off. It will probably reach settlement and most people will get 500 text messages plans for a year or something since I seriously doubt they’ll go and change the internals to do text messaging policing unless forced to by the courts. Should be interesting to watch.
Photo Credit: (pouwerkerk)