FCC Looking at Early Termination Fees – How About High Cost Text Messages & the Lack of Low-Cost Low-Volume Voice Options?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the already high ETF (Early Termination Fee) applied to abandoning newly purchase phones and their voice/data service. In fact, Verizon was in the spotlight recently for boosting ETF rates for smartphones (with special focus on the Droid). TechCrunch reports that…

FCC Probes Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, And Verizon On Early Termination Fees

This is all fine. But, I’m also interested in the following questions:

1. What does it really cost cell phone companies to subsidize phones?
2. Why do their contracts and subsidy system make it so difficult for existing customers to purchase new phones on, say, an annual basis?
3. Why do tiny little text messages cost so much per character (is it make of virtual gold)?
4. Why is tethering so difficult?
5. Why don’t phone companies have low-cost voice plans for those of us who mostly use our phones as data devices?