Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Communications Wireless Networking

20 Years of GSM and SMS 157

Posted by timothy
from the grudgingly-admit-sms-is-useful dept.
udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, up to 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handsts were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

20 Years of GSM and SMS

Comments Filter:
  • ugly abomination (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mapkinase (958129) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @07:49AM (#39926233) Homepage Journal

    ugly, overpriced abomination that should die, die, die.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Thanshin (1188877)

      ugly, overpriced abomination that should die, die, die.

      Why kill it? It's one more tax on idiocy. Idiots are paying our providers.

      I don't want it to stop. I want more idiot taxes! Install blackjack on all mobiles.

      • Unfortunately, our providers have generally realized that taxing idiots to pay for lobbyists and generate profits is substantially more lucrative than taxing idiots to pay for infrastructure upgrades...
      • by Valacity (2634575) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:34AM (#39926755)

        ugly, overpriced abomination that should die, die, die.

        Why kill it? It's one more tax on idiocy. Idiots are paying our providers.

        Oh yes, because everyone else is an idiot. It's good we have Thansin, who is not an idiot, because what would we do otherwise.

        Look, not everything is priced at the lowest point compared to other services like the internet. Yes, per megabyte price for SMS is huge. But who the fuck tries to transfer data with it anyway? On top of that most people have unlimited SMS with their plans now. Even without that SMS price isn't that high and it was very convenient.

        By the way, SMS was also developed by Nokia engineers, accidentally actually. Just shows how much groundwork Nokia has done for mobiles and that they actually deserve every patent they have (most of which they've given for free use anyway).

        • by peragrin (659227)

          I send 10-20 texts a month. At$.25 a text it costs me no more than $5 extra.

          Unlimited texts start at $20 a month for AT&T.

          no most people don't pay for it.

          • by Rei (128717)

            Over here in Iceland, with NOVA, I can't get unlimited text, and even getting a fixed number of "free" texts a month is absurdly expensive. The per-text cost is something like $0.08.

            Back in the US, I never texted. It was a total rip off, I contended, and I refused to do it. Over here, I've totally changed. I read and write Icelandic much better than I speak it, and over a phone call, it's almost impossible for me to carry on a proper conversation in Icelandic. Everyone has cell phones. So spending a

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          ugly, overpriced abomination that should die, die, die.

          Why kill it? It's one more tax on idiocy. Idiots are paying our providers.

          Oh yes, because everyone else is an idiot. It's good we have Thansin, who is not an idiot, because what would we do otherwise. Look, not everything is priced at the lowest point compared to other services like the internet. Yes, per megabyte price for SMS is huge. But who the fuck tries to transfer data with it anyway? On top of that most people have unlimited SMS with their plans now. Even without that SMS price isn't that high and it was very convenient. By the way, SMS was also developed by Nokia engineers, accidentally actually. Just shows how much groundwork Nokia has done for mobiles and that they actually deserve every patent they have (most of which they've given for free use anyway).

          The real problem is that the providers aren't really happy just charging high fees to the people that "don't know better" as the GP thinks (with his non-idiot intellect,) instead they use it (like someone else mentioned) to get enough laws and regulations in their favor that they make everyone an idiot, stringing together enough fees and tiers and contracts that there is basically no escape except to "settle" on some compromise between quality, ease of use, and cost. But God bless the free market for provi

        • by rickb928 (945187)

          I use Smozzy from time to time for little things, and revel in the absurdity if it.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:06AM (#39926437)

      ugly, overpriced abomination that should die, die, die.

      But enough about cowboy Neil

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'm on Boost Mobile. How is unlimited talk, text, long distance, 411, roaming, internet, and email for $45 overpriced? Back in the landline days twenty years ago when long distance calls were expensive most of my pohone bills were higher than my cell bill is now (and I no longer have a landline).

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      It's not really overpriced on most modern plans (which either have unlimited texting for a flat fee, or simply include a number of free texts per month that is more than most people need).

      I'm on a low end cap plan on Vodafone (Australia) that gives me $180 of 'value' for $20 a month. That 'value' is just a bucket which I can use on calls, data, SMS or whatever. If I used the whole lot on SMS (nominally priced at 28 cents each, but that's not what you actually pay), it'd be:

      180.00 / 0.28 = 642 SMS per month.

  • 20 years later... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @07:50AM (#39926247)

    And they still charge over $1000/MB for SMS.

    • by King-Raz (51985)

      Depends on your plan. Like many others, I get unlimited SMS as part of my monthly subscription.

    • Re:20 years later... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lobiusmoop (305328) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:28AM (#39926673) Homepage

      "'SMS is the closest thing to pure profit ever invented" - Sir Chris Gent, founder of Vodafone.
      (from here [thisismoney.co.uk])

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        "'SMS is the closest thing to pure profit ever invented" - Sir Chris Gent, founder of Vodafone. (from here [thisismoney.co.uk])

        And to think, the only thing you have to do to avoid the SMS charge is use the phone as a PHONE and call the person you wanted to communicate with. And yet somehow the texting option is more popular despite the constantly increasing cost...

        • That article is over four years old and even then is citing an old quote. The world has moved on quite a bit since then and as others have said, pretty much everyone in Europe at least gets unlimited texts or at least an awful lot in their bundle. I get 300mins, 1,000 texts and unlimited data plus a free Android phone (list price £450 when I signed up) for £18 a month on a 2 year contract.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's something to be said for asynchronous communication. Case in point - you're reading this at your leisure, at some point in time after I posted it, rather than reading reading it live as I type.

        • And the fact that trying to type anything on either a traditional mobile phone keypad or a touchscreen is an exercise in frustration and pain. If someone texts me I either wait until I'm at a PC so I can send an email or, if it can't wait, just phone them.

          Most bafflingly popular feature ever.

      • by blue_teeth (83171)
        At least where Monopolies or Oligopolies operate.

        Come to India. It's mobile user wet dream. We are largely GSM.

        Voice calls - 1 paisa for 2 seconds. There are 100 paisas in 1 rupee. 50 Rupees = 1 USD.

        SMS: We basically don't care how much it costs. I think it's nearly free. Some 500 SMS free per month and then what? 20 paisa per SMS?

        In India, receiving party NEVER pays for SMS.

        International SMS (all over the world) costs like Rs 5 per SMS message.

        For comparative analo
        • $1.50 for a liter? That's over $5.67 a gallon. That is only cheap compared to countries with punitive taxes on gasoline that are several multiples of the cost of the gasoline itself.

          • by legojenn (462946)

            Yeah, for cheap gas, come to Canada, it's only $1.27/litre here (at least in the Ottawa/Gatineau area). Sure you won't get cell service in 90% of the country, but the cell companies are so scummy you wouldn't want to deal with them anyhow.

          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            $5.67/gallon is fairly cheap compared to virtually ALL Western countries except for US/Canada. It's certainly less than in any European country, Japan, Korea, Australia, NZ, etc etc.

    • by stud9920 (236753)
      You should not use SMS to transfer data. It was never the purpose of SMS. The product sold with SMS is ubiquity. It's the guaranteed lowest common denominator . I can bet you in 5 years my mom will not have a data service on her mobile. But she'll have SMS. That's what I pay for, otherwise I would have just mailed her. This is also the reason why nobody switched in great numbers to Skype for voice calls even when ITZ FRE3 ONE1!!!. It's hardly ubiquitous. Additionally in many territories, data based servic
    • Re:20 years later... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kbielefe (606566) <karl.bielefeldt+ ... noSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @09:18AM (#39927337)

      Repeat after me: prices are set by supply and demand, not by cost.

      The minimum costs of providing labor are extremely low, yet workers keep insisting on making a profit instead of working at indentured servitude rates.

    • by fatphil (181876)
      The GSM standards body has never charged anyone for an SMS.

      You're conflating use of a standard with service providers who sell use of that standard.

      To be honest, I can't believe the US providers who even charge for receipt of SMSs still get away with such absurd pricing. No carrier in any european country I've heard of has ever even thought of such a stupid and dangerous charging scheme. Nor could they now, as nobody would be stupid enough to chose them as a provider.

      In most countries in europe, it seems th
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What does the typical person pay per month?

  • "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS" Are they really all using the GSM standard, which provides SMS? I thought that in some developing countries, there were still analogue (i.e. pre-GSM) networks in use?
    • Re:all on GSM? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hian Bosu (61229) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:03AM (#39926397)
      Not really, most developing countries bypass the entire analogue mobile stage and go straight to digital.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, sort of like how they tend to bypass landlines completely as the infrastructure for basic cell service is easier to set up in those types of places. As well as easier to maintain.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I thought the US was one of the last countries on earth to get rid of analog back in 2008. While most developing countries never introduced analog and went straight to GSM.

    • Re:all on GSM? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:09AM (#39926479)

      GSM is nearly ubiquitous in developing countries. I've been to a significant number of 3rd world (and 2nd) and GSM has been the prevailing standard with an occasional CDMA set showing up.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      I think they didn't even consider starting mobile networks until the richer countries were going digital. When you're building from scratch, it makes sense to use newer technology. It may even be cheaper.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      For large areas in many developing countries it's the only option you have on telephony, as they never had wired networks installed. After all installing a wired network costs a lot more than building up a wireless network (saves digging up every single street to every single home to get a cable in the ground). Their major cities may have a wired network, but the countryside not.

      Possibly in some developing countries they have analogue networks, but that will be rare. Just like developed countries have upgra

      • by Art Popp (29075) *

        Comment was insightful. I accidentally clicked Redundant. (Never sneeze while moderating).
        Undoing accidental mis-moderation by posting as self. Nothing to see here.

  • by metrix007 (200091) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:13AM (#39926529)

    I mean, with probably a few exceptions?

    I've always liked GSM because it is easy to swap out simcards, while CDMA seems to flash the information into the phone making it much harder to reuse...

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Very much agree. It's pretty much the reason I stopped using Bell in Canada. They did (still do?) use CDMA technology. Which meant that when it came time to buy a new phone, even though I bought the phone outright from them, they charged me a $35 activation fee. If it was GSM, I could have just bought a phone anywhere, swapped out the SIM card and they couldn't say anything about it. Although I personally find that CDMA has better call quality, the fact that the network provider can charge you to switch p
      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        Bell switched to GSM over a year ago. I doubt they'll drop the CDMA network as long as they can charge Verizon users massive roaming charges when they come to Canada, but they only sell GSM phones now.
      • by compro01 (777531)

        Bell, Telus, Sasktel, and MTS all have legacy CDMA networks, but they also have GSM/UMTS "4G" networks they're using going forward. I don't think Bell and Telus sell CDMA devices anymore, but Sasktel does and they'll probably keep selling the M800 until Motorola stops making it. It's popular with the guys who work the oil sands and extreme rural areas is one case where GSM just doesn't work worth a damn thanks to the excessive cell size restriction.

  • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:21AM (#39926601)
    I get the impression that sending a text is way more expensive in the US than elsewhere so hasn't really taken off the way it has elsewhere? I get 1,000 a month 'free' in my monthly payment. Most people I know are on unlimited. It's certainly not uncommon for people to get through 5,000+ a month. I really don't see the problem. It's cheap, simple and works. Sure you can use WhatsApp etc (free for how long?) but most people I know don't have it and won't installit because, well, they like SMS for reasons given.
    • by vlm (69642)

      I get the impression that sending a text is way more expensive in the US than elsewhere so hasn't really taken off the way it has elsewhere?

      Its much more expensive and slower than making a voice call and harder to use than email because of the length limit. It only makes sense if you're in a no-talking but cellphone-ok environment (student in a lecture hall, etc) or if you're multi-tasking about ten conversations at the same time (teenage girl stereotype).

      I find 5000 to be an unlikely exaggeration. Assuming 30 days per month and 8 hrs/day of sleep/shower/otherwise disconnected time per day, that's a constant load of one text message every six

      • Its much more expensive and slower than making a voice call and harder to use than email because of the length limit

        Hang on, the other person said they're free/unlimited? As for speed etc, how long does it take, 5 seconds? What do you use them for? Everyone I know just uses them for small msgs i.e. 'I'm at the Theatre', 'OK, be there in 5', 'cool' etc. As for the size limit, That's pretty notional. Just type as much as you want, the phone carrier splits them up and puts them together again so the recipient

      • by sohmc (595388)

        There are times when sending a text is more "appropriate" than calling. For example, if you're in a noisy environment and need to get someone's attention. Equally so, if you're in a very quiet environment and need to talk to some discretely.

        Texts can be better than e-mails since they require the sender to be precise with his/her words and to be as short as possible.

        That doesn't negate how expense texts really are verses how much they should be. Like many things, text fees are a fee of convenience, not of

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        Have you ever met a teenage girl?
        Lately the boys are getting just as bad.
        At high traffic times sending and receiving I have seen people go 4 or 5 texts a minute.
         

      • by kimvette (919543)

        I find 5000 to be an unlikely exaggeration.

        Not so much.

        My texts:
        March-April
        Messaging Unlimited 1,283
        Feb-March
        Messaging Unlimited 1,719
        Jan-Feb
        Messaging Unlimited 3,065
        Dec-Jan
        Messaging Unlimited 1,650

        I'm 40 and don't text as much as twenty-something friends. I don't think 5,000 texts is infeasible.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Thats... amazing. If I'm not getting overly personal, what are you doing with thousands of texts per month? Or if that's not gonna fly what are "people in general" doing with thousands of texts per month? I don't know anyone personally with those kind of stats, so I obviously can't find out any other way than asking here.

      • Slower then making a voice call? By the time the person you're calling picks up the phone I could have typed a quick message and hit send. Then you have the standard conversation start and end filler that probably makes your call 3 times longer then the short message you wanted to convey.

        • by PhotoJim (813785)

          Voice is best for some communications; text is best for others. What exactly is the point of this debate?

          The simpler something is, the better SMS works. The more complex it is, the more likely a short telephone conversation is going to help the problem better than a multi-minute SMS exchange.

          This is sort of like arguing that trucks are better than cars - cars are more fun to drive and more manoeuvrable but just try fitting that queen bed in the back to take it across town.

    • by Solozerk (1003785)
      Same impression here - I pay 19.90 euros each month (in France) and I get unlimited calls (towards landlines and mobiles in 12+ countries), unlimited internet access (capped after a few GB, though), and unlimited SMS/MMS. The prices in the US seems completely crazy by comparison - and the same appears to be true of the Internet access prices there (especially given the apparent level of service quality which seems quite poor).
      I wonder if someone tried to study the impact the availability/prices of mobile
  • Am I the only person who used to prefer when you could slot the entire credit card sized card into the phone without taking the battery out? It was so much friggin easier - I used to have 3 cards which I could swap around as and when needed and it literally took seconds to change. Ok , some smartphones have gone back to that and now have a SIM slot on the outside but most STILL require you to disassemble the phones first. Why??

    • Ok , some smartphones have gone back to that and now have a SIM slot on the outside but most STILL require you to disassemble the phones first. Why??

      Because saying that space is at a premium in modern phones is a massive understatement. The space needed to accommodate what you describe, especially with a full-size SIM card just isn't available. As this [google.co.uk] image shows, the space devoted to even a micro-SIM is a significant fraction of what is available. The SIM holder is directly beneath the A4 chip and it's fairly plain to see why Apple are pushing to do away with physical SIMs altogether. FWIW I'm still against the idea, but I do see why they're so keen o

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        The day Apple gets rid of physical SIMs is the day I switch to another type of phone. I have multiple microSIMs that I switch into my iPhone regularly while travelling. I have SIMs for Australia, Singapore, USA, UK and NZ and I keep them in my little travel wallet with my passport. Usually, I perform the SIM swap while on the plane so I'm ready to go when I land.

        The only reason I'd accept ditching SIMs is if multiple network providers could be easily set up on the phone itself (i.e. a virtual SIM card done

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Most people will simply have two phones for two SIM cards. Swapping them out sucks, no matter how easy the process is. And there are quite some dual-SIM phones that allow you to have a second SIM (targeted at frequent travelers to have a home number and a foreign number, and save on roaming cost).

  • I hate it how gsm handsets interfere with computer speakers, you can always tell when someone carries a gsm instead of, say, cdma or its later incarnations. Its also silly to learn by the speakers noise you are going to get a call before the actual phone rings... And, have found gsm despite in theory being more rebust, struggles more in bad situation such as inside buildings.

    A single operator in my country happens to service both cdma and gsm phones, with the latter being more heavily pushed. Perhaps it can

    • by bytesex (112972)

      THAT is what you have against GSM?! Wow. And here I thought on this website we would soon venture into a discussion about its now broken crypto. But no, speaker noise. Wow.

  • Everyone's kind of missing the real problem here: monopolized industry. This is how they get away with gouging the customer with these dead paradigm technologies. SMS, long distance charges, roaming, and per MB billing all should be a thing of the past. The only reason they aren't is that, in an industry with little competition, the telecom cartel can pretty much do whatever they want.
  • You do realise that this means there are now people of voting age who have *never* been without text-messaging ?

    Damn, but that makes me feel old.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

Working...