AT&T drew the ire of many wireless customers recently when it tacked on a $0.61 “mobility administrative fee” to the end of every bill that analysts have estimated will give the company around $500 million in added revenue per year. CNET’s Maggie Reardon did some digging around, however, and found that such sneaky, vaguely explained fees are staples on wireless bills for all major American wireless carriers.
Verizon, for instance, has been charging a similar fee since 2005 while Sprint has been doing the same since 2008. In both cases, the carriers’ fees are even higher than AT&T’s, ranging from $0.90 for Verizon to $1.50 for Sprint. Even T-Mobile, the self-proclaimed “UNcarrier,” has a $1.61 monthly “Regulatory Programs Fee” that the carrier says is not mandated by the government but is nonetheless used “to help recover the costs of complying with government mandates” such as E-911.
None of this is to say that such fees are justified or that carriers don’t need to be more transparent about how they’re assessed. But it does seem clear that AT&T isn’t the only guilty party in this instance.