CHARLOTTE -- Among its many titles, Charlotte can now claim to be one of the "textiest" cities in the Southeast, based on a study by one major wireless company.
Verizon Wireless customers in Charlotte sent and received more than 103 million text messages in April, a nearly 600 percent increase over messages in the same month two years ago, according to the company's recent analysis of customer data. That growth ranked third among large cities in Southeastern states served by Verizon.
The study came about through simple curiosity, said Carly Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey-based company.
"We were seeing such phenomenal growth and popularity" in texting, Culbertson said, "and we just really felt that it would be interesting to look at and see where we saw the high points."
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She said the company has seen texting become more popular among parents trying to stay in touch with kids and with business professionals who like to send messages while in meetings.
To be sure, Verizon has added plenty of customers in the last two years, including nearly two million nationwide in 2007. But Culbertson said much of the growth in texts has come as many cell phone users have found a use for texting.
Nicole Matos, 25, of Charlotte said she uses texting to get quick responses from friends while she is at work. By lunchtime Tuesday, she had already sent 10 messages. She said on weekends, she finds herself averaging 25 texts a day.
"That's not a lot compared to my friends, though," said Matos, who works for Wachovia. She plans to trade in her old phone soon for one with a full keyboard--to make texting easier.
Other wireless providers also have seen texting take off. Scott Tollett, vice president of regional retail services for Alltel, said his company has seen customers of all ages catch on to texting. One reason is that sending messages allows people to avoid using minutes from calling plans, he said, adding that Alltel is constantly updating its plans to increase text messaging.
Alltel, Verizon and most other wireless companies offer a variety of text-messaging plans, including some with unlimited texting. Without such a plan, customers usually pay for each message received or sent. Verizon users, for instance, have to pay 20 cents per message.
Culbertson says the Verizon study analyzed internal customer data, and that it is too early to tell what the company will do with the information.
Kevin Coulter , 34, of Charlotte said he's not surprised texting has grown so much in Charlotte because he has seen many more people turn to it as a quick way to catch up with friends and co-workers.
Coulter, who said he sends 50 texts a day, recently bought a new phone, then later learned that Verizon had dropped his unlimited texting plan. When his monthly bill arrived with $107 in texting charges--which Verizon eventually waived--it was a shock, he said.
But, Coulter realized, it also was a testament to how much he texts.