Sprint Now Rumored To Be Hiking SMS Fees As Soon As March 1st

It seems like we’ve been down this road before.  Yet another mobile operator — Sprint — is now rumored to be hiking SMS fees for aggregators and mobile content providers by as much as a half cent per message.  The rate hike could take affect as soon as March 1st, according to recent reports.

Sprint contacted the aggregators it works with to let them know that it plans to up the fees associated with standard SMS, though premium SMS shouldn’t be effected.  Like with rumors of other carriers doing the same thing — namely Verizon, and more recently T-Mobile — the move could jeopardize the profitability of SMS-based marketing and smaller content providers like 4INFO, ChaCha and droves of others.

The problem lies with the fact that a rise in SMS fees won’t effect large-scale providers like Twitter, Facebook, Google and others, which in turn makes it extremely difficult for independent mobile content providers and mobile marketing companies to compete going forward.  “When the carriers raise prices for standard-rate short-code messages, it puts a damper on the whole industry,” said Kirsten McMullen, director of marketing at 4Info in an interview with Mobile Marketer.  “It creates a barrier to innovation in mobile messaging for marketing, CRM or advertising, and this ultimately hurts the consumer.”

The backlash that ensued when Verizon announced it planned on raising standard SMS fees by as much as three cents per message was enough to make the nation’s number one carrier rethink it’s plans, and the same thing happened when T-Mobile did the same thing not too long ago.  ChaCha, a top-five mobile messaging provider, was very vocal in its fight to put a stop to T-Mobile’s plans.  Will Sprint be successful?  Will mobile content providers like 4INFO, ChaCha, Myxer and others stand up and fight?  Only time will tell.  March 1st is rapidly approaching, however, so the next few weeks could be interesting.  Stay tuned, we’ll be following this one closely.