Feeds

SMS costs more than using Hubble Space Telescope

Teenagers. Harder to reach than distant galaxies

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Turnbull: NBN won't turn your town into Silicon Valley
'People have been brainwashed to believe that their world will be changed forever if they get FTTP'
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.