The problem with SMS (Short Message Service)
For those who don't know, SMS
is the service that underlies most text messaging on mobile phones. There are others SMS messages can be sent from the Web. I've been using it more and more, particularly internationally. Around the holidays, presumably due largely to network congestion, I discovered what seem to me to be some appalling features of SMS. These go way beyond the well-known limitation that messages cannot exceed 160 characters.
- My service provider�CREDO, which uses Sprint's PCS network�does not support international texting. This may not be the usual practice, but I was unable to tell in my cursory examination of alternative providers. Worse than that, they are perfectly willing to charge me for messages that never get delivered, for messages that take inordinately long to arrive and for messages I receive that are garbage and the sender does not send. I know this because I called to complain and was basically told, "Tough luck!" The good news is that if I buy a relatively low-priced bundle�$2.99 a month for 50 messages a month (a 20-message breakeven point) or $4.99/mo for 300/mo (a 50-message breakeven point)�additional messages only cost 10� each. And I can purchase these options on a month-by-month basis, retroactive to the beginning of the billing period, so long as I add or subtract them by the day before my billing date1.
- There's no way to tell when a message was sent, only when it was received.
- Some messages take over 24 hours to reach their destination! Sometimes I think I'd be better off sending a letter, which at least allows me to let my recipient know when I sent it.
- Some messages never make it to their destination and the sender is not notified.
- From one correspondent, who denies sending anything like these, I periodically receive a message consisting of two characters: e@. No one seems to be able to explain why this is happening.
- There is apparently no way to block SPAM messages (short of blocking all messaging) on my mobile phone and I have to pay for these as well.
All in all, as a technical professional, this seems like a really poorly designed system.
There's a similar monthly option to start the weekday no-charge calling period at 7pm rather than 9pm. It costs $5/month.
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