Is a commission war on tap between the discount brokers? Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCH) said today it plans to lower its commission fees in a bid to "appeal to the broadest range of investors possible." That may make the times tough for the other players in the discount brokerage arena.

The stocks of Schwab's rivals all fell in today's trading, as investors wondered what it means for the sector. Those foes include discount brokers Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD) and E*Trade (NYSE:ET).

Schwab, a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, said it intends to cut trades for clients with more than $1 million in household assets to $9.95. For additional clients, it is reducing the commission fee to $19.95, and for those who make more than 30 trades per month, the fee falls to $14.95.

The discount brokers have enjoyed some hectic times recently as the stock market has recovered. While Ameritrade and E*Trade have both reported stellar quarters, Schwab hasn't quite matched that torrid pace. One reason may be that its commission rates were higher than its discount rivals. And the lower the commission rates, the more attractive to individual investors.

Low commissions, of course, are not the only value proposition in the space -- so is a drive toward providing the tools for investor education (an ideal we adhere to here at the Fool; check out our Fool's School). Investors are likely to look at all their options in terms of getting the most value for their money. Last winter, when Rick Munarriz compared brokerages in Don't Get Blindsided by Your Broker, he recognized that while Schwab's commissions were skewed toward the high end, it has gained popularity through its solid reputation and large network of Investor Centers.

Schwab shares fell nearly 6% in recent trading, and the other discount brokers followed suit. It is, after all, a tough time to up the competitive ante. The stock market is traditionally slow in the summer. Just take a look at your own lives: It's a hotter time for surf, sand, the open road, time shares, and blocks of cell phone-free vacations (with any luck, right?). Meanwhile, investors are likely still worried about several things that could cool off consumers, business, and the market: the specters of rising interest rates, gas prices, and the like.

While it may make the short term rocky, in terms of growing revenues and earnings, the move may help Schwab persuade some price-sensitive investors to defect from its upstart rivals. And speaking of shopping, all the brokerage shares noted above are trading well below their 52-week highs. Though the lazy summertime is almost here, it may be an apt point to evaluate stocks in the space for the long haul.

Do you want tips for your own foray into trading? Do you love your discount broker and want to talk about why? Talk it over with other Fools on the Discount Brokers discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.