Sending a text message is at least 4 times more expensive than retrieving the same amount of data from the Hubble telescope, according to an astronomer at the University of Leicester. Now we just need a phone that sends messages via deep space. [] (Thanks to Linus!)


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  1. kepler11 says:

    not very surprising, though. The cost of text messages (or, in fact, just about anything) is not driven by some inherent value or cost of delivering it, but the amount that people will pay. Many people want to send messages, and will pay for it. Not many people want Hubble telescope data.

  2. azntg says:

    Only in the United States. I hear text messaging is much cheaper in Europe and in Korea.

  3. azntg says:

    Shoot me for commenting before finishing the entire article.

    Bannister makes his calculations based on the UK rates. He should look at the rates stateside. That’ll really throw him off!

  4. Rajio says:

    @azntg: Leicester is in The UK (Europe) but I’ll bet YOU’RE in the USA.

  5. Bongo says:

    This just proves how inefficient governments are . . . if NASA were in the private sector it would price the Hubble data transmission at market, not at some subsidized rate ;)

  6. coren says:

    In terms of the same amount of data – misleading headline on thsi one.

  7. Chris Walters says:

    @coren: Bannister compared bits to bits, so there’s no problem with his estimate. I wrote the first sentence incorrectly. Will fix right now.

  8. OminousG says:

    I have unlimited text messaging for $10 a month that covers all 5 phones on my Tmobile account.
    Last month we rang up just shy of 20,000 messages.

    In the morning I’m going to have to figure out how that computes.

  9. kc2idf says:

    @azntg: The price is worse in the US. At 20 cents apiece, the price becomes about $1500/MB.

  10. antisane says:

    Kinda cool to compare 1 broken tech (cell phone companies) with another broken piece of tech (hubble telescope)


  11. ravana says:

    Don’t forget international text messages that are priced separate of any messaging plans…starting at around 15c/msg (on Tmo at least). :(

  12. sam1am says:

    I remember these calculations from when I put them on my blog a few weeks ago.


    It was on Digg, Slashdot, and several other big sites. The paragraph with his math is a dead giveaway.

    Score one for originality. :/

  13. sam1am says:

    @kc2idf: That is only to send, remember that someone has to pay the same amount to receive a message too – bringing the total cost closer to $3000/MB.

  14. vivtho says:

    FWIW … here in India I pay Rs.0.5 (about $0.01) for sending a text SMS. A MMS is Rs. 5 (about $0.1). All incoming calls and messages are free … and rates are dropping even further!