Google Voice. It's free and you can port your number over(takes a trick or two) if you wanted to for one time fee of $20.
I use GV specifically for texting, and I rarely receive MMS so it doesn't matter too much on how long it takes Google to bring MMS support.
Like I said there's only so far you can go. Just because the prices seem the same doesn't mean they are price fixing. You forget SMS/MMS is old technology and over time it's more expensive over time to maintain. A part that may have coated them $1,000 may cost them $10,000 today.
There are so many factors that dictate prices. One a good note Verizon is trying to standardize IMS worldwide which would reduce costs for SMS/MMS and will use data channels over voice channels(which data channels are more up to date).
Takes a trick or two is putting it lightly. Early termination fees, getting a new number from Verizon, forwarding the new number to google voice...getting a new plan with Verizon. Not for the average user, and sounds like you should be out of plan to do it. plus I would probably loose my unlimited data grandfather. Awesome.
Actually no... same line. I had no trouble at all.
Port your number out call back and reactivate that line. If they can't get the number back they give you a new number.