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SMS Messaging Unreliable 551

Lovejoy writes "From a Reuters story: Keynote announced today that in its two-week, 26,000 message test-period 7.5% of its text messages never reached their destinations Ouch. I don't have SMS - Is this report consistent with your experience?"
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SMS Messaging Unreliable

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:45PM (#5091025)
    that is actually a bit low. It's to see the failure rate has improved from 99/2000 when the rate was around double that or more.
  • Works Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by dnaumov ( 453672 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:46PM (#5091032)
    Works here (in Finland) well enough. I'd say 99% of my messages reach their destination.
    • When I was in Australia I never lost an SMS. The same goes pretty much for Hong Kong also. But I have lost one or 2 international SMS (Oz -> HK and HK -> Oz) messages. Nothing like 7% though.
    • Re:Works Here (Score:5, Informative)

      by daveirl ( 177821 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:11PM (#5091192) Homepage
      Works here perfectly. Here is Ireland. Maybe it just has problems in the US. With most phones you can turn on delivery reports so you get a message pending report and then when it is delivered to the other phone you get a message recieved report.

      I'd send about 10 messages a day and have been doing so for about 4 years now and have had a total of about 5 Message Failed reports.
    • Re:Works Here (Score:2, Informative)

      by jarda ( 635462 )

      No problem in Czech Republic either, with a testing period of something like, umh, 3 years.

      Only messaages I've ever seen lost were the ones sent from internet (no wonder, since they are free) and even that is very rare later on.

    • by wdr1 ( 31310 ) <wdr1.pobox@com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:22PM (#5091263) Homepage Journal
      Same here. I can confirm I've gotten every email I've received.


    • When you send a message, it pops up a screen saying whether the send was OK or not. If it was (90% of the time) then the message will arrive, I have never heard of one getting lost. If the network is busy or whatever (like at New Year) you may get a failure screen, so you just hit send again and it works. The important thing is (a) you know it failed and can easily resend (b) the failure doesn't cost anything.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#5091034)
    This is true for the UK sure, but if it fails you get a message back - always.

    "CSLib Menace strikes back"
    • Is your reply sent back by SMS? :)

      I mean, if it is, how can you be sure you always get back a reply if SMS messages aren't guaranteed?
      • by awx ( 169546 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:34PM (#5091322)
        The handset gets a received receipt via the network when a) the message is waiting to be received by the other handset and b) the message is delivered successfully. If your handset doesn't get the first receipt back immediately, the network received receipt, it gives you an error. You can frob a bit on most Nokias to show you all this, it's really handy.
  • by psxndc ( 105904 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#5091037) Journal
    So if you're reading it, everything seems to be oC$%^#%^&&*^&*(#@


  • SMSC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PauloSousa ( 604150 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#5091038)
    I don't know what kind of Short Messaging Service Center they have, but I live in portugal where all the telecoms have CMG [] SMSC's and I I have never seen 1 message lost!

    And i use a SMS chat system where I receive around 100 messages per day...
    • SC's and I I have never seen 1 message lost!

      Yes, but would you know it if you had lost it? ;)
    • Hey, that's.... (Score:3, Informative)

      LogicaCMG as of this year!

      If you're into SMS, you might do well to remember that company: I believe that Logica and CMG (now LogicaCMG) together have 85-90% of the world market for SMS software.

      So if you lose a message, you know who to call.
  • Failure Rate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It would be nice to see what the failure rates are among European carriers.
    • Re:Failure Rate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yurian ( 164643 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:17PM (#5091231) Homepage
      I can only speak from personal experience, but I think the failure rate must be far less. I live in Ireland half the year, and spend the other half in the UK. I get delivery reports from the network that tells me whether a message has been delivered, delayed, etc. They've only very occasionally failed - and then it's usually during major network congestion, like at a rock concert, or on new years eve, etc.

      I don't know how popular it is in the US, but text messaging is big over here. People chat by text message about all sorts of things too trivial to ring someone about, plus you can text someone from situations where you couldn't call - such as during a class, etc. The networks operators love it - at $0.10 per message on most pre-paid service, it generates tons of cash or very little network traffic. It was the big surprise money generator when they launched GSM.

      • by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:38PM (#5091349)
        I don't know how popular it is in the US, but text messaging is big over here. People chat by text message about all sorts of things too trivial to ring someone about

        Don't worry, over here in the States nothing is too trivial to make a cell phone call about, especially when driving it seems.
  • Not my experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mabster ( 470642 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:48PM (#5091041) Homepage Journal
    Down here is Australia SMS is (in my experience) 100% reliable. The only times I've had trouble has been over busy periods like Christmas, when a message might take a few hours to get to the recipient, rather than a few seconds.

    I use SMS like I use email. In fact, it's nicer, since you don't have to wait for your friends/family to be at their PC (if they own one) and online.
  • by FattyBoeBatty ( 458019 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:48PM (#5091044)
    I think the whole problem is with current business models of internet businesses -- with free services, the host really has no compelling reason to guarantee anything. It's a lot easier to just drop a message than to report and gracefully handle an error. Perhaps industry-wide slacking service (just like this) will soon lead to subscription-based messaging clients.

    -Ben S.

    • by version5 ( 540999 ) <> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:02PM (#5091140)
      How is $0.10 a message (with Cingular) a free service? My carrier charges for both sent and received messages, although it's possible to buy your messages in bulk for a discount, i.e. 100 messages a month for $3.99, 200 for $5.99, etc.
    • Well free is a bit of an overstatement, I'd say =)
      Don't you pay for every sms you send? And a high price at that!?
      For a service that never was ment to be reliable to start with and only uses surplus bandwidth in the mobile networks you'd expect to pay a very low price per message.
      That's why your messages sometimes takes ages to deliver.
      If there is no surplus bandwith in the controll protocol when your message gets to the top of the queue, it gets placed at the bottom of the queue again. =)
      If you're in an area with lots of mobiles changeing cells all the time, like in a city, there might be very little bandwidth left over for sms.
      At least, as far as I know, it used to be this way. Maybe they've changed the way things are handled, since reliability and speed seem to have increased lately.

      But I always activate the "delivery reciept" funktion.
      That way I *know* when my message has been delivered.
      I started doing this after having an important message being deliverd more than 12 hours after me sending it.
      If I don't get a delivery reciept within a reasonable time, I can always make a phonecall instead if it's important and timecritical. =)
  • I tend to get messages days later, if at all. When I was on vacation in Illinois (I live in California) I didn't get a single message sent to me, and my friends swear they sent several. I use Sprint, FYI.
    • I used to have this problem with my work provided cell phone from Verizon and thier voice mail system. I'd get notification of a new voice message between two and four days after the message was originally left. The sad thing is that this was the norm. I can't remember getting more than one or two messages on the same day they were left in my voice mail box.
    • In my experience, the reliability of SMS depends a lot on the provider. I have had no problems with AT&T, Cingular or Voicestream, and I have not experienced any loss when sending between phones on these networks.

      The biggest problem, however, is when I send messages to Europe. For months at a time, it will work fine with a certain provider, and then no messages will go through. Sometimes the problem is only one-way. It depends on which provider I send from here to which provider I send to in Europe.

      Bottom line: I've had no problem sending nationally, but messages crossing the Atlantic sometimes get lost.
  • by nsample ( 261457 ) <nsample AT stanford DOT edu> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:50PM (#5091054) Homepage

    If an SMS message is lost on the network, does it make a custom ringtone?
  • Time limit (Score:5, Informative)

    by InsaneCreator ( 209742 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:51PM (#5091059)
    SMS messages can be set to "expire" if the are not delivered in a certain amount of time. All the phones I've owned had this set to "now or never", so if the message couldn't be delivered at the moment it got trashed. Mos users, of course, have no idea this setting exists.
    • Re:Time limit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Guido69 ( 513067 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:19PM (#5091242) Homepage
      " SMS messages can be set to "expire" if the are not delivered in a certain amount of time. All the phones I've owned had this set to "now or never", so if the message couldn't be delivered at the moment it got trashed. Mos users, of course, have no idea this setting exists."

      YES!! (Damn mod points - never there when you need them)

      A year+ ago I was trying to set up system-automated cell text messaging from Peregrine ServiceCenter to the Verizon phones carried by our sysadmins. Would only work about 50% of the time, so we scrapped the idea and reverted back to the Hell^Hp Desk calling admins.

      Long story short, I went through 3 levels of support at Verizon to figure out that this was the problem only to subsequently find out there was no way for us the change the expiration through their service. Wonder if that's been fixed yet?
  • I know... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zildy ( 32593 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:51PM (#5091062)
    7.5% of 26000 seems about right, according to my logs...

    By the way...

    - Bob, your wife wants you to get a gallon of milk on your way home

    - John, the big proposal was a huge success with the suits

    - Mary, wear the pretty satin thing for the concert tonight

    - Bill, something about K-Y and a bullwhip...ew...
  • or because people get annoyed at mashing the 6 button three times for each 'o' that they give up typing in the message half-way through 7.5% of the time?
  • by Crispin Cowan ( 20238 ) <.crispin. .at.> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:51PM (#5091069) Homepage
    I have AT&T cellular, and my SMS is unreliable. Messages can take 12 hours to arrive, and they can fail to arrive all together.

    AT&T got me started on SMS with a "free for now ..." package, then switched to one where incoming is free, and outgoing costs 10 cents each. So I adapted and basically never send a text message from my phone. However, it is handy that you can e-mail messages to an AT&T cell phone at (i.e. insert appropriate phone number) for no cost. So I regularly e-mail my wife's cell phone from my desktop.

    Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
    Chief Scientist, WireX Communications, Inc. []
    Immunix: [] Security Hardened Linux Distribution
    Available for purchase []

    • Sprint seems to have two different message types. The first is a "One Way Message" which is up to 160 characters. I've sent hundreds of these messages and haven't lost a single one yet. You can't reply to them, but you can have them tagged with a source phone number, making it easy for the recipient to call back.

      The second type they have is the "PCS Short Mail Message". This is the one that claims compatibility with non-sprint customers, and is presumably the SMS message. I've probably had 20% of these dropped as I was testing. Now the real problem is that on my phone (Treo 300) you cannot read these messages, you need to click on the URL which sends you to the sprintpcs page, from which you must log in and read the message. This is annoying enough as it is, but the real problem is the fact that the sprintpcs page, for whatever reason, doesn't render on the phone itself. Sure, it works in Mozilla, but the point is to have them at your fingertips, not your desktop.

      Sprint has a free web page where you can send the "One Way Messages" so it doesn't cost a thing. It doesn't even require cookies or anything, so you could even automate it with a brain dead shell script.

      I wanted to have a simple indication when I get new emails when I'm out and about, so I set up a procmail rule that pipes a copy of certain emails to a program email2pager. This program determines if it should send a message (time of day, if I'm active on the mail server, etc) and then scans the email for the Subject and From, then goes and grabs the first bit of the message (stripping MIME headers, "So and so said", commented text, remember, 160 characters max) and then sends it to a second perl script (misnamed sms-sprint) which uses LWP to connect to the Sprint page and send the message.

      It works without sending the whole message to Sprint. Anything that is sensitive should have been sent with PGP, of course.

      If anyone is interested in the scripts, let me know.

    • I think it would be more accurate to say "American cellphone providers are shit" rather than "SMS is unreliable". I have been sending at least 10 messages a day for the last what? 4, 5 years? In that time I've recieved TWO spam messages and NEVER known a message to not be delivered. Of course, if you've got no signal, you can neither send or recieve... but that's wireless for ya!
  • I use SMS regularly here in California (with AT&T GRPS/GSM service), and I've experienced a lot of problems not so much with message losses but rather with delays.

    The whole point of SMS messaging is that you know they'll be received and read within minutes. Very often, i receive SMS several hours late, which really defeats the whole purpose of messages such as "i'll be 10 minutes late"...

  • by Slurpee ( 4012 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:53PM (#5091084) Homepage Journal
    The best service was AT&T, internal SMS, but they still have a 2.2% failure rate. That really is pathetic. Surely a 99.9% success rate is more resonable?

    I would be interested in seeing how they failed. Was it inside the networks? Or did the messages never leave the phone? What were the Telco excuses? WHY is SMS so unreliable?
    • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:31PM (#5091590) Homepage
      I would be interested in seeing how they failed. Was it inside the networks? Or did the messages never leave the phone? What were the Telco excuses? WHY is SMS so unreliable?

      SMS is never intended to be reliable. There are many places that the SMS can be lost. So, lets go through a description. :) Before we begin, let me prefix this by saying it's all GSM, and probably wrong (going from memory), but probably close enough.


      • MS - handset
      • BS - base station
      • SMSC - short message service centre
      • HLR - home location registry (knows where destination is).

      Your handset is connected to a base station. The base station talks to the SMSC and gives the SMS to it to deliver. The SMSC then attempts to forward it on to the destination SMSC, who will send it to the destination BS and finally to the destination phone.

      Now, add in the fact that a destination phone may not always be available to receive the SMS. It may be outside of signal range, have a dead battery, or simply be turned off. So the destination SMSC has to store the SMS. The SMS is usually lost because the SMSC has to flush it, like a congested router.

      The next place that it can be lost is in the originating SMSC. Consider, it takes a _lot_ of negotiation between carriers to get links set up, and add more. Cost/SMS, payments, etc have to be agreed. Now, imagine you've saturated that link and need to send another message. Yep, it queues up on the sending SMSC too, only he doesn't care as much because you're not his customer. :)

      Let's look at some math:

      • SMS/subscriber/day: 10 (billed+others)
      • Number of subs/SMSC: 2m
      • Size of SMS: 256bytes
      • Percentage lost: 3%
      • Number of lost messages: 600k
      • Space needed to store all lost messages until delivery: 600,000 * .25kbytes = 150megs
      So, assuming that all messages can be delivered in 24 hours, you would have to find 150megs of free space on the system to get it to work (good luck). Of course, the messages would be late and confusing, but who cares!

      An SMS is an unreliable, time limited message. It doesn't carry long term value, and is usually used for "ping" type messages. Top it off with TV shows receiving votes by SMS which result in rates going from 100SMS/second to 500SMS/second, and you get an idea into how hard the problem can be.

      Jason Pollock

  • People kinda get used to it so you have plausible deniabiliy when you pretend that a message from someone you don't like never got through.
  • Sure, the delivery rate is terrible, but I'm sure your carrier of choice makes sure they charge you for each and everyone that gets sent, despite it being received or not.
  • I find that SMS messages are particularily prone to failure when sending between different carriers. Here in BC for instance we have Telus, Rogers and Fido all providing SMS. When I send a message on Rogers to another Rogers subscriber, I have yet to lose a message. However, when I send messages to Telus or Fido, it's very hit and miss. From what I've heard on the street, the servers that handle the inter-network messaging are not very well run because the companies can just continue to blame each other instead of taking responsibility.
  • I've sent/received hundreds of SMSes while in places like China, Hong Kong, and Singapore -- I've never experienced any lost messages. There are absolutely no problems with messaging between cellular companies, or even different countries, for me. It's much cheaper than making calls in many situations.

    The seamless interoperability of GSM standard (which almost all Asian and European countries use) is to me, one of the few examples where competition in the marketplace (like in the US cellular world) is actually counterproductive.
  • I would have to say that number might be high for Europe (maybe about right for canada) but providers in the USA, that number is way off!! I got my girlfriend a phone so she could SMS me as she lives in the US and I live in Canada so sms is ideal way to send little messages with out the expense of a phonecall. Using VirginMobile service the loss rate of messages seem to range in the 70 to 80%. yes.. maybe 2 or 3 in 10 messages actaully hit my phone! It's crazy cause sometimes I can be in the same room testing them and it works fine, then same location just on a different day, no messages. Odd thing is my messages always seem to get to her, it's her messages coming back get lost somewhere...

    I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. I have crappy coverage with my GSM phone here (unless I'm in a major urban area I don't get signal) but the loss of SMS messages just suck ass!

    Ahhhh.. to be back in europe again, if they know at least one thing, it's how to make mobile service work! Got to love riding subways with signals..
  • Maybe it's not technically SMS, but I use Sprint's text message service to forward some of my E-mail to my phone. I find that I get lots of duplicates -- I'll often get two, sometimes three or four, copies of the same message.

    I don't think I've ever had it completely drop a message. Sometimes there's a long delay (several hours) but that's rare; usually if I'm sitting at my desk I hear my phone beep before my mailreader has noticed that a new message has arrived.

    It doesn't look like Sprint charges me extra for the duplicates, so it doesn't bother me too terribly much, though I'd prefer it if my phone would just suppress the dupes altogether rather than showing them with "Duplicate!" warnings.

  • I can see it now. Honey, I sent you a text page saying I'd be late, didn't you get it? What's this? Did you see that CNN article?
  • I used SMS extensively with 2 different networks in Istanbul for a while before and I don't recall a single lost message. The US networks are already overloaded with stuff like camera phones etc, I wonder if SMS just isn't reliable under load..?

  • by Osrin ( 599427 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:01PM (#5091134) Homepage
    ... the family used to use SMS for text conversations all the time, my sisters and parents still do. It seems to be a cheap effective way to communicate. Here in the US the networks seem to have done a terrible job of implementation... text messages rarely seem to reach their destination over the same carrier, let alone inter-carrier... I've stopped using them, this report does not come as much of a surprise. GSM is still a pretty new technology to the US, I guess we give it time and they'll get it sorted out. Service was pretty grim in the UK in the early days as well.
  • by twofidyKidd ( 615722 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:02PM (#5091139)
    The telco might be dropping out a message here and there to make a few extra bucks on messages.

    Here's the math. If 7.5% of 26,000 messages don't make it through, that what..1950 messages that MAY get repeated. So at $0.10 per message and at a resend rate of 20% (390 resent messages) They make an extra $40.
    Double the amount of messages and increase the failure rate to 10% and a constant resend rate of 20%, thats $104.
    So if a telco runs an SMS service that does some 150,000 messages a day and drops out, maybe 12% of them betting on a %20 resend rate...thats adds up over time.
  • by sakeneko ( 447402 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:04PM (#5091153) Homepage Journal

    What puzzles me is that anyone cares whether SMS messages arrive or not. Most of us have voice mail on our phones? Why does anyone want to turn their cell phone into the electronic equivalent of a doggy leash?

    It's bad enough when you have to carry a pager for work; voluntarily subjecting yourself to that kind of intrusion strikes me as nuts.

    In addition, dishonest marketers and at least some cell service providers are using SMS to send unwanted bulk marketing messages -- that is, they are spamming users. :/

    AT&T, my cell phone service provider, is apparently one of those. After I read complaints from a number of AT&T users who had been SMS-spammed and who said that AT&T refused to stop, I demanded that AT&T disable all "services" on my cell phone account that I had not specifically authorized, including SMS. The representative tried to claim that they couldn't do that, but I insisted and he eventually gave in.

    Don't assume that each new "feature" offered by your cell phone provider (or your ISP) is something you want.

    • ...maybe it's the $70+ fine per spam that does it (or the legal threat of that at least), but I've never recieved a single SPAM in Norway.

      • ...maybe it's the $70+ fine per spam that does it (or the legal threat of that at least), but I've never recieved a single SPAM in Norway.

        I assume you mean on SMS. If you mean in email too, I'm moving to Norway, no matter how cold it is this time of year! ;P

    • by Adam9 ( 93947 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:17PM (#5091230) Journal
      Quick paste:

      Verizon Wireless emerged the victor from what could be one of the country's first cases of wireless spamming.

      The country's largest wireless carrier, based in Bedminster, N.J., said it had reached a settlement with Acacia National Mortgage, which calls for the lender to stop sending repeated, unsolicited commercial text messages to Verizon Wireless customers.

      Other terms of the settlement were not disclosed, including any possible remuneration for message recipients, who under some plans are charged a per-message fee. Under the Colorado state antispam law on which Verizon based its case, recipients or carriers can sue for $10 per message, plus any actual damages.

      Full article is here []

      I love Verizon Wireless.
    • by Dr_LHA ( 30754 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:23PM (#5091264) Homepage
      What puzzles me is that anyone cares whether SMS messages arrive or not. Most of us have voice mail on our phones? Why does anyone want to turn their cell phone into the electronic equivalent of a doggy leash?

      This is a response that is typical amongst Americans. Apparently SMS is useless and why don't people just call instead? However this is ignoring the vast number of SMS being sent by private individuals in Europe where cell phone take-up is much higher than in the US. There must be some reason why it's so popular? It's not all spam (in fact I've never received a SMS spam). There's billions and billions of text messages being sent each year (according to this article [] 125 million SMS messages were sent on New Years eve in the UK alone), rivalling email in volume, and certainly overtaking it as an easy and quick messaging system for the masses. SMS is quick, simple and easy way to communicate with people. Much easier than phoning, I can SMS 15 friends at once with the simple message "Meet @ Dog & Hound @ 10pm".

      So yes - there's many of us who find text messaging a excellent form of communication, much easier than pagers, email or even calling someone. It fills a niche and as such is an astoundingly popular. So it's pretty important that SMS messages arrive or not!

      No more "what's the point of SMS" comments please, if you can't figure out what to use it for you're probably just too old to understand what these young-uns are doing with new fangled technology today. ;-)
    • What puzzles me is that anyone cares whether SMS messages arrive or not. Most of us have voice mail on our phones? Why does anyone want to turn their cell phone into the electronic equivalent of a doggy leash?

      Hmm, let's look at this :

      Voicemail requires me to call me provider to get the message at $0.xx/min

      Voicemail requires me to have a pen handy to write down any useful notes

      Voicemail requires me to remember my callers return #

      Voicemail requires me to stop a conversation so I can listen to a message

      Voicemail requires me to call it back if I forget the message.

      With SMS, i have the message in text, the sender's callerID is on the message, if they enter any phone #'s I can extract them with a button press, The text is always available, I can reply to the sender without making a call, and If i'm in a meeting I can read and respond to urgent messages with out being too antisocial.

      I'll use SMS over Voicemail any day of the week

    • It's bad enough when you have to carry a pager for work; voluntarily subjecting yourself to that kind of intrusion strikes me as nuts.

      I like my cell phone, it's a T68. I get SMSs and I prefer them over voice mail because I not only have it in writing to review, I don't have to actually be on the phone to read.

      AT&T, my cell phone service provider, is apparently one of those. After I read complaints from a number of AT&T users who had been SMS-spammed and who said that AT&T refused to stop, I demanded that AT&T disable all "services" on my cell phone account that I had not specifically authorized, including SMS. The representative tried to claim that they couldn't do that, but I insisted and he eventually gave in.

      Uhm, you can fill out a form on their website and they stop. Everyone I know doesn't have a problem with this, and I never have (I got one, then filled out the send-me-no-more-spam form, and it was gone). I got more spam going through Verizon. As for the rep, it wasn't him "giving in" it's that they have to get a service tech to break apart the features and put blocks and it's a pain in the ass.

      Don't assume that each new "feature" offered by your cell phone provider (or your ISP) is something you want.

      I think you missed the point of this thread. This is a thread about SMS messages that get lost. Not about paranoid folks complaining about lack of privacy over features. There are plenty other threads. Why don't you move along, and let us, who enjoy SMS converse without your troll?
    • In addition, dishonest marketers and at least some cell service providers are using SMS to send unwanted bulk marketing messages -- that is, they are spamming users. :/

      Yes, this is a growing problem that has received a lot of publicity in Europe recently. This has relevance for e-mail spam as well, it neatly illustrates that charging for each message (as is done with SMS) will not stop spam.

    • Think different (tm) (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mindstrm ( 20013 )
      Not to sound like a broken record.. but.. Europe.

      SMS is popular because a) it works EVERYWHERE, right across the continent, across basically all carriers.
      b) fixed per-message fee. pennies. Sounds like a lot? Compare it to calling someone to say "buy milk" or "meet you at 6" and it's a lot cheaper.
      Remember, in the REST of the world you often don't sign contracts, or get tons of free minutes a month.. you simply pay for the calls and data you originate. Period. You do not pay for incoming.

      When I was in Ireland, I saw that SMS was *extremely* popular. People bang out messages to each other all the time. Sounds goofy to you? It's quite handy.

      SMS is efficent, and doesn't demand attention for little notes.

      We in North America tend to view SMS more as an alphanumeric paging thingy than a real 2 way communication device... and the reason is, it only works with some of the phones we know.
      In europe, if I got your cel number, I can send you a message... I don't have to wonder what carrier you are on.
    • Here in Australia (as with Europe, I believe), the originator of the SMS pays for it, not the sender. The only "spam" SMS messages I've received have been from the cellular provider advising of new services (and the ones saying "Pay now or die!" :)

      I don't carry a pager. Hell, I don't even use my home line for voice (just for fax/'net). People SMS me either through free/paid gateways, ICQ or their phones.

      I find SMS is incredibly convenient for sending messages to people when I don't think it's important enough to interrupt what they're doing. It's also something you can do while doing something else (you know, touch type a message in english while talking in spanish to someone - lots of fun - you should try - even better if you're driving at the same time *larf*)

      Unless it's real urgent that I speak to someone, I'll text them. I send more SMS than I make calls - go figga...

      So yeah, SMS is incredibly useful for lots of reasons. Still, I would imagine if you paid to receive them (what a joke) and already had pager, etc - it might not be so useful...
  • I have only had once instance of this unreliability that lead to anything negative (?) happening. This girl swore up and down I was ignoring her when she finally got me on the phone but I KNOW that message never made it through. Never mind that I was ignoring all her know how it is when you have all those girls calling and you just dont have the time for ALL of them....

    (humor folks, enjoy...)
  • I'm aware of a few of my messages not reaching their destinations, but that's the important ones where I follow up with a call a few hours later saying 'So? Did you get my text? -are- we on for tonight?' I'd guess more trivial ones than that actually disappear.

    *shrug* I'd not consign anything that important to SMS anyway, and it annoys me more when SMSs take five or six hours to get through, which seems to happen all the time...

  • I'm makin dis post on me phon right now. u'd be surprizd how massages get mangled in tranzit. Noe wot I mean? LOL

  • I didn't even know that you could network a Sega Master System. Does it use the card slot or the cartridge port?
  • by seldolivaw ( 179178 ) <me.seldo@com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:09PM (#5091180) Homepage
    I didn't realise the USA was that far behind in mobile phone tech! Newsflash: SMS is unreliable, as the rest of the world has known for 5 or 6 years, which is how long we've been using SMS. To save you the trouble in another five years:

    Newsflash! Picture phones are low-quality!

  • That's neat. You could use SMS to tell off your boss, and actually have 7.5% percent chance of keeping your job. =) Hey, it's better than nothing!
  • While this doesn't account for more than a few messages per day, I have yet to not receive one. Never used SMS prior to this, now I am in love (of course e-mail to my phone works just as well).
  • by leastsquares ( 39359 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:14PM (#5091214) Homepage
    ...has reached it's destination. That's 100% of the messages I read. ;)
  • Sometimes it's even worse that that.
    Have a tried a couple of times, getting a call from a client that didn't understand that I didn't call back after he left a message on the answer machine.
    The problem was that the SMS that tells me that there is a message waiting never reached my phone. It is even worse those times when I am on 24/7 standby. When I have a unanswered call, I just used to check if there was a SMS from the answering service. But since I can't rely on the SMS service I now check the answering machine everytime I have an unanswered call on the phone.
  • FIRST POST! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Seehund ( 86897 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:18PM (#5091232) Homepage Journal

    blahblahblahLameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
    Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like SMSing.
  • by peterpi ( 585134 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:18PM (#5091235)
    Right, you've got a mobile telephone. That's right, a telephone that you can carry around with you, and speak to other people wherever they may be.

    So what do you do with this wonderful invention? Well, a system called SMS is bolted on for unreliably sending very short messages that take an age to type in. For the luxury of sending (or not; who knows?) this uselessly small piece of information, you are prepared to pay the same price as a about a minute's worth of full voice communication. That's roughly the same amount of time it took to type in your four-word question in the first place.

    Oh, and everybody that sends these messages uses a basterdised version of 1337 speak, which is actually considered to be quite cool.

    Man, I hate mobile phones.

    • by denzombie ( 561408 ) <dev_null@wHORSEa ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:36PM (#5091625) Homepage Journal
      For the luxury of sending (or not; who knows?) this uselessly small piece of information, you are prepared to pay the same price as a about a minute's worth of full voice communication.

      Dude, you are missing the point.
      It's not about cost, SMS is a tool to bypass the conversation protocols. Instead of calling someone and spending several minutes of:
      "what cha doing?"
      "you doing anything?"
      "let's go to the club."
      "I'll see ya there."
      "Hey, wait."
      "Ummm, nuthin, I forgot."
      "Ok, see ya there."

      You can type:

      "Meet me at the club if you're free"

      And there are many ways to get text in.(product_placement) The Treo has a easy to use keyboard. (/product_placement).
      So there.
    • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:13AM (#5092396) Journal
      So what do you do with this wonderful invention?

      I could take it to the symphony so that receiving important messages ("Your wife is in labour" or "A kidney donor has been found" or "The server melted down and we're losing $6000 per minute and the other admin is in a coma") can get through without annoying people around me. Your phone/pager/SMS device is set to vibrate (at most) when you receive a call, right? Less important messages ("Honey, can you pick up some milk on your way home") can be safely filed for future reference. No furtive and very annoying (to those around you) conversations, no cryptic number on a little tiny pager display.

      I can take it to the pub and not have to find a quiet place to hear messages. I have on more than one occasion been unable to receive an ordinary call because of ambient noise. SMS might have been very helpful.

      I can always leave my phone at home if I don't want to be disturbed--I'm not dumb enough to have given my boss the number.

    • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:49AM (#5092662)
      Could you be any more ignorant? SMS, like voice mail, is a supporting function to calls. Their benefit is that they are un-obtrusive to write as well as to send. Just like email. You can read them are respond to them when you like, or ignore them if you don't consider them important. Unlike calls, which demand your attention NOW!

      Some typical situations where I use SMS:

      - on the subway: "hey, i'll be about 5 minutes late"

      - replying to an SMS like the one above with "ok, no problem"

      - somewhere without a TV or radio and I want to know the results from the Formula 1 race: "F1" Back comes the results, with short commentary if there were some big accident with injury or similar

      - during a meeting, when my phone rang but the person didn't get through because the phone was set on silent to not disturb the meeting: "in meeting. i'll call you after it! was it something urgent?"

      - in Thailand, rather than spending 5 euros per minute (or whatever) on a call: "the plane is 10 hours late. don't bother coming to the airport, i'll take a cab"

      And no. They are not unreliable. Like so many other person's here have pointed out, SMS's work well enough that you don't even think about reliability issues. I personally don't remember any instance where I would have lost an SMS and over the years, I must have sent several thousands of SMS's. And you know, you actually get confirmation when you send it if it was delivered, PLUS, there's a return receipt system.

      The article in this story is talking about text messaging in the *USA*. I wouldn't even be so sure it's about GSM SMS but rather the article writer might just be using "SMS" as a term for proprietary US text messaging systems.
  • SMS is like the instant messanging of the cell phone world. Who cares if >10% of the messages don't get through. I'd bet the aim/icq/msn/etc networks have similar if not worse reliability. If you really want to get ahold of someone, you call them.
  • this might sound stupid and all...
    but im glad that there is a failure rate.
    I dont use SMS messages, i dont quite see the point.
    my phone supports AIM, if i need to, i just use that.
    additionally, SMS will become the next hottest spam source.
    Last nite, i finally got another cell phone, through verizon...
    the phone hadnt been activated for 2 hours, and i received some mail that had been sent from hotmail, advertising a party...
    2 hours!
    yea, its a cool little feature, but i dont see how it can be anything trully beneficial, just another gee-wiz thing.
    esp when im about to start getting charged for all the spam that comes in to the phone.
  • by Audent ( 35893 ) <[audent] [at] []> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:23PM (#5091267) Homepage
    Vodafone's GSM network always tells me when a message can't be delivered (wrong number entered on my part usually - not a cellphone) and I don't think I've ever had someone (reliably)say "Oh I didn't get that text message"... plenty of no-hopers that can't actually use their phones claiming not to get messages (I usually find them and show them how to use their SMS or predictive texting at that point).
    Telecom NZ uses CDMA an D-AMPS and I haven't heard of any losses on that side at all.
  • by NineNine ( 235196 )
    Could somebody please explain why somebody would willingly squint at a tiny screen, and peck at a tiny keyboard to type out some message, reminiscent of the days of the telegraph, instead of just dialing the same damn phone and, god forbid, actually *speak* to someone? I have no idea how much "SMS" costs, and I really can't be bothered to go from virtually free voice calls (after the monthly fee) to hunting and pecking lines of text on the phone.
    • I don't use SMS but I can certainly see a use for it. What if you're in a situation where you cannot speak out loud but still want to communicate? If I'm sitting in a boring meeting that I'm required to attend, I can't just ring up my girlfriend and start talking!
    • by core_blimey ( 168748 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:00PM (#5091465)
      Squint? Either get glasses or get a better phone! It's not that hard to read most phones really.

      What if you remember something you want to tell someone at 2am, I'm not going to call them and wake them jsut to say "Don't forget the CD in the morning" when I can just SMS it they'll get it when they feel like. Sure I could call them in the morning (as long as I remember then, or write it down to remind me) but then I can also jsut SMS it and be done. SMS does not demand instant attention like a phone (God I hate stopping things just to answer the phone) and it also doesn't require instant responses if you want to think about something.

      You might have virtually free calls where you are, but here it's pretty much the same to call someone for 30secodns as it is to just SMS them. Call when you want a longer chat sure, but just SMS them if you want something trivial.

      As for the whole hunt and peck entry, I've got a pretty small Nokia (8850) but with predictive text and nimble fingers I have no problems typing out a 120 character message in 30 seconds. If you have fat fingers or lower dexterity then try a different phone, or get one of those keyboards that Ericssons have or just don't use SMS.

      On a side note I've not specifically noticed any missing messages (although that could be like the Australian porn legislation, how would I know if I'm missing something?) although I do get the occasional "Messaged Undelivered" back when it's either busy or I'm crossing the bridge on the train. That's another point, you can SMS on a train and not be one of those arseholes who yell into the phone at peak hour! If I get a call on the train then I hang it up, nothing can be so critical that they can't wait for 10 minutes or leave me a voice mail so that I can get back to them later.

    • I can explain... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <mamoru AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @12:14AM (#5092160) Homepage Journal
      NineNine said:
      Could somebody please explain why somebody would willingly squint at a tiny screen, and peck at a tiny keyboard to type out some message, reminiscent of the days of the telegraph, instead of just dialing the same damn phone and, god forbid, actually *speak* to someone?
      Here's a good reason: Have you ever ridden on a crowded train? Have you ever been to a movie theater? Have you ever been in a Library? Do you want to hear people yapping away on their phones in those places?

      If you need to get a quick message out to someone or someone wants to get one out to you but doesn't want to disturb you or the others around you because they don't know if you are in a place like those mentioned above, then SMS/email is your friend (as common courtesy is a GOOD thing). Here in Japan, it is considered impolite to use your phone on the trains. Sure some people do, but it is not common at all. People tend to look out for each other.

      And another thing. Everytime there is a story about a movie on Slashdot, there are a lot of posts about people who hate going to movies because of "some jerk with a cel-phone". Well, in Japan, EVERYONE has a mobile phone, and not once have I so much as even heard a phone go off in a movie theatre. Why? Common courtesy. We know how to use the Manner Mode on our phones here, and we know that it is incredibly rude to ruin someone else's movie experience.

      But, if something is urgent, or the person who is trying communicate with you has no clue where you might be so doesn't know if it is OK to talk or not, SMS/email allows us to maintain common courtesy and communicate in such situations.

      That is why we "willingly squint at a tiny screen, and peck at a tiny keyboard to type out some message, reminiscent of the days of the telegraph, instead of just dialing the same damn phone and, god forbid, actually *speak* to someone".

      I hope I was able to successfully answer your question.

  • by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:28PM (#5091285)
    Sprint has been delivering voicemails late more and more frequently. This is extra bad since it's a business plan. We've had voicemails up to two weeks late. They'll suddenly come through 9 at a time.
  • I am using SMS to relay this message and
  • Here is a good site [] with a wealth of technical information on how SMS works behind the scenes.
  • AT&T and Nextel (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arjuna01 ( 85430 )
    I've used both AT&T Wireless and Nextel, specifically for work applications. We have a system that send e-mails to the phones e-mail address when something goes down or comes back up. I consistently with both services have lost messages. Or worse, the messages are severly delayed.
  • How about delayed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by barzok ( 26681 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:33PM (#5091314)
    Having not used SMS, I don't know if this is the same thing. We use the text messaging features of our phone/pagers at work all the time for automated systems to alert us to system problems. We've had days where things come in very late, sometimes by many hours.

    Unfortunately, we never negotiated an SLA with Verizon, so if their system has problems oh well, too bad.

    IMHO, late messages are as bad as ones that never get delivered. How about numbers on that?
  • by horne ( 90113 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:34PM (#5091321)
    It seems that the report just says that the US carriers are shoddy, while all our European and Oceanic ./ ers say they have no problems with SMS.

    Should this come as a surprise ? Maybe its time the US carriers realised that the reason people there don't uses SMS is because it's broken and needs to be fixed.
  • Hm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert Peers ( 120166 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:36PM (#5091337) Homepage
    Is this report consistent with your experience?

    Well for what it's worth,

    1. International (roaming) messaging is a disaster. You're lucky if anything arrives, and if it does, it can easily be delayed a few days. Once it gets through, you're likely to get the message several times - people reported up to seven times. Can you say ACK ? :)

    2. During peak loads, it looks like the (Belgian) operators give priority to packets originating from subscribers -- ie people who are not using a GSM-version of a calling card containing n minutes / m messages. This was especially obvious at new years' eve -- everyone I know with a subscription got through with every single SMS; people with a card got exactly zero messages through the stampede. If delivery fails, you get a notice though, and afaik you're not billed.
  • by Ztream ( 584474 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @08:56PM (#5091448)
    You gotta love the SMS-stories on slashdot. All the Europeans go "What are you talking about? It works great, I use it all the time!" and all the Americans go "SMS, why would you want to use that?"
  • by The Ape With No Name ( 213531 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @09:17PM (#5091544) Homepage
    I have a t68 world and a t28 world. the t68 is for my cingular wireless here in the states. Every third sms croaks with this service, while my Slovenia phone co, Mobitel [], can get every sms to me when I cut on my t28 in the States, or anywhere for that matter. I think it really has to do with the provider and the importance that they put on sms. Cingular charges 3 bucks for 100 sms's a month, while Mobitel charges nothing and only 1 tolar a minute for phone calls within SLO and 55 tolars a minute for international roaming for my Cingular phone. Cingular charges 400 tolars a minute (2 bucks, roughly) for a minute to my Mobitel phone. US GSM and mobile phone plans in general are a ripoff. How can Slovenia, while pretty prosperous for a former Yugoslav republic, keep rates so cheap? It can just be 90 percent market penetration alone!
  • Quiet!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kefabi ( 178403 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @10:00PM (#5091803) Journal
    I'm seeing a lot of "Why the hell would someone use a cell phone to message when they can just talk?!?"

    Well, besides the giggle factor that comes into play the first time you message a friend who's staring at you from right across the room, my answer would be because IT QUIET!!!

    In the movie theater and your mom/boss/significant other wants to know where you are, or why the hell you aren't someplace you're supposed to be? Your phone on vibrate can show you who's calling you, and you can quickly type in a message and reply back with information without disturbing those around you.

    On New Years Eve, I was at a Rave at the LA Sports Arena. Do you think I'll really be able to hear or talk to anybody next to a wall of subs blowing out my ear drums? Considering there were quite a few people there, I also get separated from my friends. Where's my buddies? When do I know when it's time to go? How far is Kenny getting with that Bree chick (seriously!)? There would be no way we could talk on our phones, but we were still able to communicate with our SMS text messages.

    Now granted, SMS isn't nessecary, but then again, this is Slashdot. How often do we do things that are truely nessecary?

  • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:36AM (#5092630)
    This is definitely NOT what I'm seeing. Not here in Finland, but also not when I've been travelling in other countries that use GSM. I consider it about on par on reliability with email.

    First of all, you get a notification immediately on the phone if the message was delivered or not, just like when you send email. In addition to that, there's a return receipt type system that many people use. I personally don't use it because I've never had any problem with messages not getting through, but I know people who do use it and I've never heard them complain about messages getting lost.

    I'm wondering if the SMS messages talked about in the article are really GSM SMS messages? It seems that all European users here are saying that they have no problems what so ever. And this study was made in the USA. Considering that GSM is hardly used at all in the USA, I'm kinda wondering if they are just using "SMS" to describe whatever proprietary text messaging systems are in use in the USA. The true SMS is that of the GSM system, where you can send an SMS to any other GSM user in the world, regardless of their or your telco, with litterally billions of messages sent every day (more than email, as a matter of fact).
  • Me, too! (Score:3, Funny)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <.paperfrog. .at.> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:03AM (#5092701) Homepage Journal
    > 7.5% of its text messages never reached their destinations Ouch. I don't have SMS - Is this report consistent with your experience?

    Yes! I didn't receive these messages, either.

  • by forged ( 206127 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:29AM (#5092760) Homepage Journal
    Here' how it work, drawn from my 3+ years experience with SMS messaging in various european countries (fr, uk, de, nl, be, se, fi, ie)...

    In europe the phone tells you the moment you send your message if the network has accepted it or not.
    If the network has accepted your message for delivery, it will try to deliver it for a certain amount of time (this is configurable on the sender's phone), I have set mine to 72 hours.
    You get a delivery report the moment the network has accepted your message, and another one the moment the intended recipient has gotten it.
    If after the delay the message couldn't be delivered (read: recipient cellphone was offline during all this time) you get a delivery report for failure, so at least you know it's failed.
    This works in almost ALL european countries, the few exceptions are certain operators (like Bouyges Telecom) which filter SMS coming from foreign numbers.

    I'd say the service is great, reliable, informative and cheap. As a result, SMS has mostly replaced pagers in Europe.

  • Learn more about GSM (Score:3, Informative)

    by kris ( 824 ) <> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @06:13AM (#5093166) Homepage
    The most definitive book on GSM is unfortunately hard to get: 9
    The GSM System for Mobile Communications
    Mouly, Pautet

    From the people who worked on the standard.

    Also, note that in countries with a properly working GSM network (that is, almost anywhere except the US), SMS do work just fine despite the fact that they have no reliability guarantee and no maximum delivery time guarantee BY DESIGN.

    Also, most people are using SMS delivery notifications to get information if and when their SMS has been delivered. That is, you get notified by SMS if your SMS has been delivered, with a timestamp, or are notified when your SMS has been delayed or lost, also with a timestamp. Using this backchannel and a simple timeout, reliable SMS delivery and notification can be implemented just as TCP is being implemented on a protocol like IP that just guarantees "best effort" delivery of packets.

    Finally, why is SMS popular? Because it is quiet and it is asynchronous. You do not have to answer the phone in order to receive an SMS, but can handle the issue when you are ready and have the time. In Europe, you do send an SMS for just about everything, unless the matter is urgent and requires immediate attention of the callee.


User hostile.