If you remember a bit back we mentioned that text messages cost about $1,310 per megabyte to send. I know a little part of me justified it by saying that carriers need to keep up the network necessary to send such messages which is why the cost is so high.
Randall over at the New York Times did a bit of investigative reporting into how text messages work. Turns out that text messages are sent in what is called a “control channel” which is bandwidth space reserved for operation of the wireless networks. That is why there is a 160 character limit so that they piggyback on this already required channel.
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.
So I guess there are only two reasons left for why carriers are fleecing us for text messages. First of all they probably have to pay the other carriers to send and receive messages sent between networks. The second is that they just realized that they can make a boatload of money off of them…
So anybody want to place bets on whether prices will be up to $0.40 a message by the end of 2009?