The four top wireless carriers in the U.S.—Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA—found themselves in the crosshairs of a class action lawsuit, filed this week in a Kansas federal court, that accuses the carriers of acting in concert to double text message rates at a time when the rate of text message use soared nationwide from 7.2 billion messages in 2005 to more than 75 billion this year. Filed by a Sprint Nextel customer, the lawsuit follows on letters sent last month by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) to the four carriers that ask them to explain why rates for text message services have jumped across the board from 10-cents per message in 2005 to 20-cents per message today. While pointing to the Kohl letter, the suit charges that the price hikes “were not the result of an increase in the costs associated with providing text-messaging service, but instead were the result of defendants’ unlawful agreement to raise the prices of text messaging services.” Sources also indicate that the lawsuit—which seeks class action status for anyone who purchased text message service from the companies from “at least as early” as January 2005—comprises one of at least 20 similar cases that are now pending across the country. Describing the suit as meritless, a Sprint spokesman explained: “we offer our customers many choices when it comes to text messages . . . and by offering these choices, we also offer better rates than our two biggest competitors.”