Monday, December 29, 2008

Text Messages are a Rip Off...DUH

The New York Times: Text messages cost carriers virtually nothing

No shit....I think we new that. But thanks for reminding us.

The New York Times has a good piece up on the heavy curtain of secrecy that surrounds mobile carriers' profit margins on text messaging. In short, they're bilking you... but you already knew that. But here's a pretty simple explanation of why the text messages you pay twenty cents each to send costs the carrier basically nothing:

A text message initially travels wirelessly from a handset to the closest base-station tower and is then transferred through wired links to the digital pipes of the telephone network, and then, near its destination, converted back into a wireless signal to traverse the final leg, from tower to handset. In the wired portion of its journey, a file of such infinitesimal size is inconsequential. Srinivasan Keshav, a professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, said: “Messages are small. Even though a trillion seems like a lot to carry, it isn’t.”

Perhaps the costs for the wireless portion at either end are high — spectrum is finite, after all, and carriers pay dearly for the rights to use it. But text messages are not just tiny; they are also free riders, tucked into what’s called a control channel, space reserved for operation of the wireless network.

That’s why a message is so limited in length: it must not exceed the length of the message used for internal communication between tower and handset to set up a call. The channel uses space whether or not a text message is inserted.

Thanks John for your read on the whole deal. Visit BB Gadgets for more gadget news.

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