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Android Communications Network The Internet

App Enables Surfing Over SMS/MMS Through T-Mobile 149

MrSeb writes "An ingenious browsing hack has emerged: if you have an Android smartphone and a T-Mobile (US) unlimited messaging plan, you can now use an app called Smozzy to surf the web... for free. Smozzy is just a wrapper around the standard Android browser, but instead of requiring a data connection, everything is funneled through SMS and MMS. Whenever you click a link, instead of firing off a packet to a remote web server, a web request is instead sent to Smozzy's intermediate server via SMS. Smozzy forwards the request, downloads the web page you're trying to visit, and then sends it along to your phone as MMS messages — and both SMS and MMS are completely free with T-Mobile's unlimited messaging plan."
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App Enables Surfing Over SMS/MMS Through T-Mobile

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @10:59AM (#37351592) Journal
    A textbook case of perverse incentives...

    From the perspective of efficiency or architectural sanity, that is about as far from optimal as you could wish to be(short of running the fastest analog modem connection that will survive GSM voice compression to take advantage of your unlimited voice minutes); but the magic of telco nonsense pricing makes it entirely reasonable.

    Hopefully getting their control channel hammered with SMS noise will induce them to offer some sort of reasonably priced modest-speed data mechanism that isn't a horrible pile of hack...

    Incidentally, of course, does this lovely mechanism make whoever runs "Smozzy" a MiTM even within SSL-wrapped browsing sessions, or does the TCP/IP->SMS insanity just wrap the packets whole and serve as a peculiar sort of link layer?
  • VOIP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo@hotmai l . com> on Friday September 09, 2011 @11:48AM (#37352196)
    Awesome. Now if we can just tunnel VOIP through it we can have free calling as well.
  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:29PM (#37352750)

    Hopefully getting their control channel hammered with SMS noise will induce them to offer some sort of reasonably priced modest-speed data mechanism that isn't a horrible pile of hack...

    Not before T-mo suffers a worse fate than AT&T in dropped calls and such.

    People think AT&T's atrocious dropped call rate is because of lousy signal - that's one reason to get a dropped call, but for AT&T, it's not. It's not even tower congestion (another reason, when the tower simply says it's full and you're just out of reach of the old tower).

    It's control-channel congestion. A phone like the iPhone makes and breaks data connections very frequently (maintaining a data context takes power, so if you only establish, do your tranfer, and tear down ASAP, you can extend the battery life significantly). However, doing so means a lot of control channel congestion as stuff like websurfing will establish a connection to do the HTTP transfer, then tear down while the user browses. Now get a bunch of phones doing that and if a new phone comes in, it literally can't get a word in edgewise to associate with the new tower. And the tower sits there with plenty of channels to offer up bandwidth for voice and data, but a full control channel.

    It happened to T-mo as well - there was an Android IM app that presumably managed to open a data connection right after Android shut it down, causing congestion from the bringup and teardown operations.

    One reason it really only happened recently is the rise of texting. Texting in Europe and Asia is huge, and the carriers had the same problems, but they adapted with control channels that can expand in bandwidth as required. Texting in North America was basically non-existent until the turn of the millennium. So carriers pretty much got stuck with the problem and since it didn't hurt things too badly, they let things be.

    Then the iPhone came about with its reckless (but power efficient) use of the control channel and AT&T suffered big time with control channel congestion. Places with the highest density of phone usage had the highest droped call rates.

    It's why Europe and Asia didn't see the iPhone meltdown that AT&T did, why AT&T can have the fastest network despite the dropped call rates (having spare channel capacity is meaningless if phones can't get at them because the control channel is full).

    Also, MMS isn't sent through the control channel - it's notified via the control channel and the phone's MMS client then establishes a regular data connection to download the attachments via the faster data interface.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday September 09, 2011 @12:37PM (#37352856) Homepage Journal

    And it's not too slow for being essentially 'free', as in beer.

    Not 'too' slow. No, not speedy. But it works. SSL is an issue, so I suspect this is not useful to do any banking with.


    One important item. TMO and everyone else expects you to have a data plan with your smartphone. So this does not get you out of a data plan. It does, however, make that 200MB plan with TMO a lot more useful. By limiting your use of that to say HTTPS and anything SMOZZY doesn't handle, and using SMOZZY to fully exploit your SMS plan, you'll avoid overages (caps and throttling) and incidentally fully leverage your SMS plan.

    Since SMS was always a clever use of signalling, it will be the carriers' response to re-prioritize any excess SMS traffic to ensure network signalling gets through. as far as I recall, they never even promise SMS will be delivered, so if SMOZZY gets out of hand, they could respond as if it were SMS spam. And TMO might, though they might hold off longer than, say, VZW, which I predict would boil your firstborn if you tried this on their network. AT&T would attend the buffet. Sprint would probably quietly block them and deny all knowledge.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"