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Summary Box: Telecoms hurt by free messaging

A visitor uses her mobile phone as she is seen next to a big banner anouncing new mobiles at the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday March. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

THE THREAT: An explosion of smartphone messaging services has managed to slash away at the important revenue that cellphone companies get from text messaging. They include Pinger, iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber Media, Facebook Messenger and KakaoTalk.

BIG MONEY: The Ovum research firm estimates telecommunications companies lost nearly $14 billion last year in text-messaging revenue from these types of services.

THE IMPACT: Telecom Italia SpA's CEO says free messaging services are undercutting the ability of phone companies to invest in their networks. Paid texting has been a cash cow for phone companies that uses minimal network capacity.