Uh Oh — Bell and Telus to charge for incoming text messages

Canadians are due for some unhappy developments. Bell and Telus will charge for incoming text messages starting in August (8th for Bell, 24th for Telus). Getting a text message will cost 15 cents a pop unless you have an unlimited texting plan.

How will they keep people from being charged for text spam? Blogger Mark Goldberg also raises the specter of text cyber-bullying — mean kids with plans spamming kids without them. It seems that both companies have placed the burden for recovering charges for unwanted messages on the consumer. The other option: Block messages completely. The move seems designed to discourage occasional texters — and grab wads of cash from less attentive customers. It has aroused such ire that Canada’s Industry Minister has asked Bell and Telus executives to explain themselves.

Things like this underscore the need for cost reduction and cellular expense management services. So far, it looks like if you get unwanted messages, you’ll have to fight the telecom companies to get them taken off your bill. If you need texting for business, it’s time to find a cost-effective plan. Our communications management software can help clients keep their texting under control, and customer service means that you don’t have to fight over unwanted text messages — we’ll do it for you.

The iPhone Lands Like a Canada Goose — In Canada, That Is

So, it’s in Canada now. After much speculation, wailing and gnashing of teeth, Canadians can finally get their own iPhones. How did things work out for folks north of the 49th Parallel? Let’s look at the Good, the Not So Good, and the Telecom Expense Management Angle.

The Good: Canadians got hardware price parity — the Canadian 8 GB iPhone is $199. Fueled by rising fuel prices and a downturn in US currency, the Canadian dollar has floated at near parity with the US dollar for a while now, but prices have been slow to change in response. Canadians are used to paying more, but by now they shouldn’t really have to. When it comes to buying the iPhone, they enjoy the same discount as American customers. Canadians should hope that this new parity eventually extends to other products and services but they might have some additional hurdles to jump because . . .

The Not So Good:Â . . . while the base prices are at parity, Canadians have to pay more — sometimes a lot more — to use the same features. Originally, Rogers’ announced plans were . . . insane. The cheapest package for Rogers was CAN$60 for 400 megs and it went up, up, up from there. After widespread consumer outrage, Rogers offered a 6 GB plan for CAN$30 instead — for now. If you don’t get an iPhone by August 31st, Rogers will revert to its previous, cringe worthy pricing scheme.

Worse, Rogers doesn’t exactly want you to know that there’s a deal afoot. Go to the iPhone plans page. Notice how you have to scroll down to see the new plan? How the price isn’t mentioned, and you need to click on an additional link to find it? How, in fact, you could miss it completely if you followed the site’s guidance?

Nice going. And remember: If you buy one, you’re on the hook for three years: the longest iPhone plan commitment in the world.

The Telecom Expense Management Angle: You want to save money buying a phone from a monopoly that only offered a decent plan under duress, seems to be hoping you’ll miss the chance, and reserves the right to eliminate it at any time? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a pity, really. The 3G iPhone is probably the first iteration of the device that has more than hype and sleek design going for it. It has formidable data capabilities and could be a legitimate business tool, but at post-August 31st rates it’ll be more of a status symbol than anything else. Plus, being locked into Rogers means you don’t benefit from carrier competition.

This doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do for an iPhone user. We can still monitor usage and billing errors to save Canadian iPhone users money. Better yet, if you discount the branding angle, the iPhone does help you indirectly, because other manufacturers are stepping up to the plate with exciting mobile devices aimed squarely at iPhone’s niche. Once they mature, you’ll be able to get a cool equivalent without hooking up with a questionable plan.

More Telecom Expense Management Lingo

Last time around I told you about a bunch of common cell phone plan-related slang and abbreviations. This time around, let’s look at some other terms in general (mobile and landline) telecom expense management. We use some of them as tracking codes for our Management and Reporting Software.

Here goes:

2G: Second generation mobile device that uses digital signals instead of analog signals of earlier, first generation phones.

2.5G: A 2G phone with additional data transfer capabilities like true (instead of mobile format) internet. The first Apple iPhone is an example of a 2.5G phone — the second claims full 3G status.

3G: Third generation mobile devices. These can handle true broadband-rate data transfer, allowing services such as video calling.

ACO: Additional call offering. An ISDN feature that allows calls to one number to be routed to multiple phones. Used to handle incoming calls in an office.

BVM: Basic Voicemail

CDR: Call Detail Recording – an automated database element used to generate billing. CDR errors or CRD interpretation errors will cause billing errors.CID: Caller ID

EVM or AVM: Enhanced Voicemail

EW or E&W: Evenings and Weekends, in the context of long distance or cellular services.

ISDN: Integrated Digital Service Network. A network capable of providing multiple telecom transmission services (including voice, video and internet) simultaneously.

TEXT, TXT: Text messaging.

Mob, Mobi, WWW: Mobile Internet. 2G Internet was limited to specially configured mobile-friendly sites due to screen and bandwidth limitations, but newer phones display Internet content in the same way as standard computers.

DB: Detailed Billing. This is often available on request and is a prerequisite for competent telecom auditing.

EMSG: Email Messaging.

FIM or FIMF: First Incoming Minute Free.

LDS: Long distance savings/saver.

M2M: Free calling between members (of a company/organization) – M2MLD includes free long distance between members.

POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service. Basic phone services.

TV: Television streaming.

VOICENET: Voice to Email.

Cellular Expense Management Lingo

Cell phone plans are complicated for a number of reasons. One is the technology, which isn’t just driven my miniaturization and power, but by a shifting set of global standards that let us talk to each other and determine how we do it. Another reason is that standard telecom company practices aren’t always pretty. Most people don’t know, for instance, that phone companies deliberately hamstring flexible standards that are supposed to help users. If you haven’t read telecom expense management literature, you might not even know if it was possible to switch carriers as easily as SIM technology should allow.

What’s SIM? What else should you know? Here are a bunch of terms that people use in the TEM business.

BAN: Business Account Number

CTN: Cellular Telephone Number

GSM: Short for “Global System for Mobile communications.” This is the most popular international mobile standard.

IMEI: International Mobile Equipment Identity. This is international serial number identifies a mobile device, but not necessarily its user.

IMSI: International Mobile Subscriber Identity. This unique number identifies a GSM network mobile subscriber. The IMSI number is stored on his or her SIM.

LD: Long Distance

OOB: “Out of Bucket.” Minutes used over those allotted by your cell phone plan.

Porting: Moving a phone from one carrier to another. The new carrier must agree to a TOR.

Pre-HUP: Upgrading a phone before being eligible to do so under a cell phone plan. Doing so incurs an additional fee.

Roaming: Receiving cellular services outside of the local area where the phone was registered.

SIM (or SIM Card): Subscriber Identity Module. This is a removable card that contains a user’s subscription information (including ISMI) and personal data. It can be swapped from phone to phone so that a user can easily switch phones. SIM Locking restricts swapping.

SIM Lock: A restriction on some GSM phones that only allows them to accept SIM cards from certain countries or networks. In North America, most new phones on extended plans are SIM Locked.

System Access Fee: A basic administrative cost that all carriers charge, regardless of the phone or service offered.

TOR: Transit of Responsibility, where one carrier agrees to take over another’s service agreement.