back to article SMS costs more than using Hubble Space Telescope

A British boffin has calculated that text messages are a horrendously expensive method of handling information, costing many times more than it does to access data from the Hubble Space Telescope. "Hubble is by no means a cheap mission," says Dr Nigel Bannister, a space scientist at the University of Leicester. "But mobile …

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Boffin

Who pays extra for SMS?

I've not 'paid' for an SMS in years - my phone contracts have always included 'free' texts and these days the numbers are frankly ludicrous. I get 500 a month and maybe use a hundred or less for organising going out or rugby practice etc and there are plenty of contracts with 1000 a month or more. It's a very simple and cheap way for phone companies to lure those consumers who do use texts a lot because it looks good but costs the providers next to feck all.

It mystifies me why so many people are so smug about not using SMS or having phones that don't even support it. Bully for you; your families must be so proud.

[N.B. Before all the forthing -at-the-mouth wannbe pedants jump in and starts to tell me that just because it's part of a contract it's not free, please note the use of the single quotes. I know it's not really free but if you have a contract you'll get the messages so you might as well use them]

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Come on VOIP

Come on VOIP for mobiles!!!! The tech is available but the services arent!

Txt's and calls are at a criminal price with PAYG and Contract.

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Alert

"Free" Texts

Even the so called free texts bundled with most contracts exclude international usage (I remember when texting abroad was the same (free) as the UK :( ).

I'm on holiday at the moment, and I have the choice of "email on ridiculous data roaming charge" or "sms on ridiculous roaming charge". I guess someone is laughing all the way to the bank. Still it heartens me that we can send messages to space for cheaper than we can across Europe...

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Boffin

U GT WAT U PAY 4

Believe it or not SMS is "feature rich" and therefore can be charged at a premium.

SMS 'wins' over voice -

Simple store and forward (unlike voicemail), alert without action, reject/ignore/delay without offence, multicast

SMS 'wins' over email -

common addressing with voice, always on, ubiquitous interface

SMS 'wins' over IM -

Store and forward, always on, ubiquitous interface, common system for all users

Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's wrong.

Beck

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IT Angle

I lived in a small West African country for a few years

and for a while SMS was free. This resulted in most people getting a phone but only buying £2.50 of credit every 6 months to keep their sim card active and texting all day every day. This meant that if you wanted to make a call between 5pm and 9pm it was hit and miss as to whether you'd get through as the network was so saturated with people texting. They then introduced a charge of about 0.7pence per text, and all of a sudden you could use your phone in the evenings without any problems. Was good while it lasted for those with no money.

Most African countries have skipped a whole generation of technology and gone from having to go to the nearest town to use a telecentre to having a mobile that works miles from anywhere. They were and are years ahead of the US and it's ridiculous system.

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the evil than men do...

I don't object to paying to send an SMS, because I am getting something for my money, I will pay for something that has a tangible benefit to me, like my lovely Sky+

However I do object to having to pay a minimum call charge when my phone instantly connects to an answering service without a seconds delay! this is daylight robbery!

What happened to the couple of rings in a different tone that would allow you to hang up? I have wasted (estimate!) over 50 of my hard earned quids on bugger all!

Paying for something I get is fine, no one is forcing me to use the service, paying 10p for what would be an engaged tone if those answering machines didn't get you... darn, at least highwaymen wore a mask!

The big wide world would stop spinning if businesses didn't make a profit, but sheer thievery!

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Unhappy

@Alternative solution to SMS pricing

Agreed, that's the way to cut the price, however, but I do find the feature occasionally useful. My wife has also taken to communicating with a friend who cannot always manage a voice call, but can get an SMS out.

What's bothering me is that what had never run me more than a buck or two a month is now running $5-15 a month, and I just don't see any real justification for it, other than lining the pockets of Verizon.

Ans so far, spam hasn't been a real problem for me on my mobile... <crossing fingers>

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Dan

200,000 times more expensive than it should be.

Three's mobile broadband costs 10 pounds per month for 1 GB. That's 1 penny per MB worth of emails that I send from my mobile phone, plus 1 penny for the recipient. That means SMS is more like 200,000 times more expensive, not 100 times.

And no, I am not comparing apples to oranges. SMS can't do anything that mobile email can't (In fact mobile email does a much better job). As long as the person you're sending it to has a suitably equipped phone, which luckily more and more people do.

Why is SMS so horribly expensive? Why isn't competition driving down those huge profit margins? What the above article fails to mention is that SMS was badly designed from the beginning. SMS uses the GSM signalling band, not the voice band. The signalling band is very narrow, so an artificial scarcity was designed into the SMS standard that couldn't be expanded in future.

The high price of SMS is what you would expect from the law of supply and demand. Ironically, the price of SMS was actually still _increasing_ about 5 years ago, despite the fact that calling charges were falling due to fierce competition. Luckily, when GSM was supplanted by 3G this trend was broken because using the narrow signalling band was no longer necessary. I expect the price of SMS to fall to zero in the next 5 years. If the providers fail to do this it will become defunct and be replaced by email.

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