Change is a lot like holiday fruitcake: It's as unwelcome as it is unavoidable. Now that Ameritrade(Nasdaq: AMTD) completed its purchase of fellow deep discount broker Datek, the new trading powerhouse with nearly three million accounts is tweaking its commission schedule.

The new minimum stock trade commission will be $10.99 at both firms. Datek's lowest rate was a dollar cheaper, while Ameritrade has been offering online market orders for just $8 a trade. However, the company is eliminating certain surcharges. For instance, Ameritrade's Internet customers used to pay $5 more for limit orders. That's no longer the case. So, for some trading styles, the new rates will actually be lower. The company is also beefing up its services and introducing a new joint tier of perks for its active traders.

For the discount brokerage industry, inching rates higher has been one of the few responses to a lackluster market in which trading volume isn't quite what it used to be. While the moves might fly against the laws of supply and demand, this is in response to a much higher calling: survival. Sector consolidation has narrowed down the playing field, and the entire deep discounting industry is trying to troll the waters to see how deep it has to go to earn the distinction of value.

The fact that Ameritrade signed up 29,000 new accounts last month, while Datek welcomed in another 15,000, is proof that not everyone is scared of getting back into the water.

In the element of full disclosure, Ameritrade is one of the corporate sponsors of our Discount Broker Center.