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And Here I thought SMS Was Useless

It has been quite awhile since I used SMS for anything useful. I always found the ridiculous costs and limited text to be a total turnoff. On the other hand after reading this article on Engadget I had a good laugh realizing that SMS may be good for something.

Turns out that one fast thinking Irishman at air traffic control orchestrated the landing of a electronically malfunctioning plane with the pilot over SMS messages. With all of the pilots high tech gadgetry out of commission after takeoff  and all voice communication thereafter that is a pretty impressive feat! Maybe that will teach the FCC.

Now if only they would post the whole conversation and the type of phone he was texting away on while flying. This would be that much more impressive if he was typing away with T9…

Check out the full story from the Irish Times

8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Pretty much every phone in the European market has T9, though of course you need to exclude QWERTY devices such as iPhone, Blackberry, PDAs.
    But its highly likely it was T9. Texting is a lot more widely used in the UK and Europe, especially as we don’t have to pay to receive and get free texts in our contracts. I get unlimited texts on mine (though they ask I keep it below 3000/month…).

    But if communication was down, how did they know the number to text and/or to even turn the phone on?! That’ll be the Irish for you 😉

  2. In Australia we don’t pay to receive texts and our caps (pay $49 get to spend $350 before you get charged again) mean that texting is pretty popular. It must be GSM only countries, SMS are more popular than phone calls (and more profitable too I bet)

  3. In the US we pay about 20 or 25 cents to both receive and send a text message. Plans usually range from $5 for 200 to $20 for unlimited. Its just frustrating to have to pay for 1kb of data when you have unlimited data…

  4. Yeah, but Ronen, SMS is NOT “data”. SMS uses the cellular voice network to send short bursts of “data”. It is more like making a phone call than emailing or web browsing, which is why when I read about this I chalked it up to bumpkiss. How can you SMS if you can’t make a phone call? Not possible on either GSM or CDMA cellular as far as I know of the technology. If you can SMS, you can voice call, and vice versa, always. But I guess I could have that wrong?

  5. If signal is low, SMS tend to get through, whereas calls don’t.
    Especially travelling at 200+mph in a plane.. Would be nipping across cell towers so quickly the phone wouldn’t be able to keep a strong enough signal for calls.
    Texts seem to get through anything though 😉

  6. If SMS is not expensive here…i am sure it would also be popular…its the easiest way to get a message thru…not just one person at a time but you can send SMS to several people at one time…it is also a great way to send message to someone from out of state or out of the country without having to pay for expensive long distance or overseas call.

    In crowded places like movies or church or restaurant, you can use the SMS to communicate without disrupting anyone’s attention (that is if you didnt assign a tone to SMS alerts) :-) No one also will be able to overhear what you are communicating. ;-p

  7. hmmmm, I think you mean FAA as it is their regulation that restricts cellphone use on planes (In the US).

    It is actually somewhat legit because the technology that air-traffic controllers use to track airplanes is World War II era sonar based (at least in the US). This is why the use of a cell phone can actually interfere with that equipment (in the US). The fact of the matter is that by using SMS, they were advancing the technology they typically use in the US by 50 years for air traffic control.

    Great post!!!

  8. sonar = sound
    radar = radio waves

    radar is used in most places because it is more accurate
    sonar is used under water because radio waves do not propagate well enough

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