U.S. Wireless Carriers' Picture Messaging Rates
As MMS usage continues to gain momentum, the competition amongst wireless carriers to increase their respective subscriber bases grows more aggressive. A couple of years ago, carriers offered seemingly homogeneous MMS messaging plans. Today, creative packaging and pricing schemes are designed to attract new subscribers while encouraging long-time customers to adopt new messaging services.
Different Carriers, Different Plans
Picture messaging is a service that doesn't offer much variety. In effect, it's standardized. A wireless carrier either offers the service or does not. There are few "bells and whistles" to set a carrier apart from the pack. The only way to determine which carrier offers the best prices is to compare plans from several providers.
Alltel Wireless offers their Axcess Picture Messaging service which allows subscribers to pay per message sent or received (currently $.25 per message). Alternatively, customers can sign up for membership plans that offer graduated levels of messaging support. For example, while sending or receiving 300 picture messages costs $5.99 per month, $14.99 per month allows up to 1,500 MMS messages and $19.99 provides unlimited messaging support.
AT&T offers a comparable host of MMS plans. A few of them are priced similarly to Alltel's packages. For example, AT&T's Messaging 1500 pack allows 1,500 picture messages for $15 per month while their Messaging Unlimited (as the name implies, it offers unlimited MMS messaging) costs $20. If your picture messaging needs are limited, you can sign up for their Messaging 200 package for $5.
Currently, SprintPCS seems to offer the best rates of the major U.S. wireless carriers. Many of Sprint's standard plans offer free picture messaging to any subscriber that is within the Sprint and Nextel network. If you'd like to send and receive picture messages outside the Sprint network, unlimited MMS messaging costs an additional $10 each month.
T-Mobile offers three different MMS messaging plans for its subscribers. You can send up to 400 picture messages to domestic subscribers for only $4.99 per month (less expensive on a per-message rate than similarly-priced plans offered by Alltel and AT&T) or 1,000 MMS messages for $9.99. If you need more flexibility, a $14.99 monthly fee provided unlimited messaging support.
Verizon Wireless features 4 different packages (1 is included within their standard Select subscriber plans). For those who want to send picture messages but don't require a large plan, Verizon offers a 250-message pack for $5 per month. Alternatively, you can send or receive up to 500 MMS messages for $10 or up to 1,500 messages for $15. These 3 plans are similar in pricing and flexibility to messaging packages offered by Alltel and AT&T. However, Verizon strays from the pack by offering unlimited MMS messaging support as an included feature of their Select membership plans.
The carriers profiled above compete aggressively to increase their revenue each year. They leverage any opportunity to poach subscribers from other wireless providers while simultaneously expanding the stable of services enjoyed by their current customers. Because picture messaging has become so popular, each major U.S. carrier has developed packages designed to lure new and existing customers. Consider your needs. Then, compare each carrier's plan side-by-side to find the package that best suits your lifestyle and your budget.
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