Feeds

SMS costs more than using Hubble Space Telescope

Teenagers. Harder to reach than distant galaxies

The essential guide to IT transformation

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 phone text costs are astronomical."

The Midlands-based brainbox explains his reasoning thus:

The maximum size for a text message is 160 characters, which takes 140 bytes because there are only 7 bits per character in the text messaging system, and we assume the average price for a text message is 5p. There are 1,048,576 bytes in a megabyte, so that's 1 million/140 = 7490 text messages to transmit one megabyte. At 5p each, that's £374.49 per MB.

Pretty fierce - and a lot of people pay more than 5p for a text. That's a hundred times typical UK pay-as-you-go data rates on GPRS or 3G. And it's very expensive even compared to pricey spacegoing access like the Hubble. Bannister asked NASA what it costs to get data down from the orbital telescope, and they said £8.85 per megabyte to get it down to the ground.

Bannister, being as kind as possible to the phone companies, bumped that up to allow for the various other steps necessary to get Hubble data into the hands of scientists. He reckoned the overall price would be a maximum of £85 per MB, putting text messaging anywhere from four to 42 times as expensive as talking to the Hubble.

The research was used in last week's Channel 4 Dispatches programme, “The Mobile Phone Rip-Off”. Read all the details from Leicester University here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.