back to article U wot, m8? OMG SMS is back from dead

Text messaging volumes have been in decline for the past decade as smartphones, bundled data plans and the ubiquity of Wi-Fi allowed people to bypass telco charges and use OTT (over-the-top) messaging apps like WhatsApp. But like vinyl and CDs, SMS may be enjoying a curious resurgence. CCS Insight's Kester Mann has noted that …

  1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Holmes

    Other than this ...

    Mann noted: "Examples include reminders to patients for healthcare appointments."

    There are also messages from a Nigerian prince and a large sum of money one has "inherited".

    PS: My grandfather was a "ladies man".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One time passwords and white van man saying they've delivered a parcel could easily account for a few billion messages

    1. cbars Silver badge

      came to say the same, O365 spams you a new 2 factor auth message almost every ruddy time you try and login, regardless of ticking "yes, bloody leave me alone for 2 weeks". When you work in IT, and use multiple machines, multiple browsers and generally bounce about, it's annoying as hell. Better than getting hacked though, I suppose!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Megaphone

        And taxi firms confirming they're on their way and that the car has arrived (which often seems to arrive when you're actually sitting in the back of the thing).

        Plus of course voting on the ubiquitous mass market TV shows - if you're not being charged for the message then how can they cream off their share to fund the whole banal circus?

    2. Banksy

      And Argos texting you five times for each order, online grocery shopping, etc.

    3. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Uptick in SMS messages

      I firmly believe the uptick can be entirely accountedfor by DHL parcel tracking messages:

      - We picked it up from the vendor

      - It's at the airport

      - It's on a plane

      - It's at the airp[ort

      - We picked it up from the airport

      - We dropped it at our distribution centre

      - It's at the distribution centre

      - It's in Eric's van wandering the countryside

      - We delivered it

      - I said, WE DELIVERED IT!!

      - Would you like to click this link to tell us how happy you are with our service?

      - Are you sure?

      - One more chance

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: Uptick in SMS messages

        "We delivered it"

        By which they often mean "it's in a hedge or bin at a location approximating your address - best of luck with that"

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Uptick in SMS messages

          Or "We delivered it, please try to get to your dustbin before the dustman comes"

  3. Richard Jones 1
    WTF?

    You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

    I have less than no use for any of the so called messaging services and certainly do not need the hassle of trying to work out which ones of the many could be of forced, marginal use. I get a few useful SMS messages without any such sign-up messing about, they are mainly various appointment reminders and those stupid, easily cloned or intercepted authority code messages wanted by an increasing number of agencies.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

      I was always to lazy to install messaging apps, BB10 had a nice way to sort messages but havent been bothered to reinstall on android.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

      Even better, just tell everyone you know to fuck off, and soon you'll have no friends, and no need for any messaging!

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

        Nah to much effort and "friends" tend to get offended, if I was to make the effort I would prefer to use setup a team speak or ventrillo server and use that.

        1. jmarked

          Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

          I would prefer something like that either if the messages can be easily accessed and reviewed just like SMS.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Or you can just phone me.

      I've never seen the utility of SMS messaging, any more than the old un*x talk. My friends and family know it, and stopped trying a couple decades ago. Strangely, nowadays they have almost all stopped using SMS, too, and simply make an actual phone call. It's faster, and has far less chance of being misunderstood.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Or you can just phone me.

        I find SMS tiresome, but my family and some friends and businesses prefer it, so I go along. I draw the line at OTT messaging services, though, particularly commercial ones. If I ever do need a more-secure not-actually-instant-but-possibly-lower-latency-than-email message service on my phone, I suppose I'll use one of the open-source implementations of the Signal protocol.

        1. ROC

          Re: Or you can just phone me.

          I am using Signal on my cell, but only my one tech-savvy son (IT support job) uses it, too. Besides that, it is quite annoying with those automated messages (i.e. the typical appointment reminder) as it urges inviting them to use Signal, too - ain't gonna happen!

          With any such service I sign up for, I always choose an email option instead if available. This makes it 'richer', and visible on more platforms/devices than just my cell, and more reliable in delivery (yes, I actually want to see many of them, IF I requested it, not the spammers of course, which Hiya catches to some degree).

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Or you can just phone me.

        "any more than the old un*x talk."

        I really miss the old unix talk. It was very useful to me!

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Or you can just phone me.

          I still use it almost daily!

      3. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Or you can just phone me.

        Have a lonely ol' upvote.

        I don't send or read SMS messages either. "Sometimes the only guaranteed way to reach a person is via old-fashioned text"? What device are they talking about that send/receive SMS but not an actual call?

        There was an advert for a cellular provider I saw some years ago where a very angry woman, on crutches and bandaged or otherwise similarly injured, appeared at a guy's house. We learn that he is apparently her significant other as she ripped him a new one for not responding to any of her texts about getting in an accident... being taken to hospital... being admitted to hospital... eventually being discharged from hospital.

        Just then he began receiving all of her texts, as if on cue, that she'd sent during that whole ordeal.

        The idea was that if you had cell provider x, they would have delivered these texts on time, blah, blah.

        SMS is stateless. You only know that it was sent, but this in no way guarantees that the recipient ever saw it, as the apparently dimwitted woman who persisted in texting over several days even though they were not eliciting any responses.

        A phone call is a stateful communication, where the person making the call knows that the information was sent, because he knows the person was actively on the other end of the call, and he heard the response. If the person was not there, it reverts to a messaging service, which again is a stateless communication.

        If the communication is not a complete throw-away so trivial in nature that it doesn't matter at all if it was received or not, text is not a suitable communication method. Thus, I conclude that any text must therefore be a complete throw-away, which is precisely how I regard them.

        It's not that I hear the text-alert noise and see who it's from and then decide to ignore it. The actual situations is that I'm not aware when they come in. I never hear the tone associated... it's not a very loud tone, and if the phone is in my pocket, it's almost guaranteed not to be heard.

        I only know what it sounds like because in the infrequent instances when I use 411 (in the US, directory assistance), which always texts the phone number to me as well as connecting the call immediately. The phone is in my hand and pressed to my ear, so I hear the text "beep beep" associated with the text message then. It's the only time I've ever heard it. I only become aware of the unread texts when I pick up the thing for some other purpose (generally, for one of two things... to give it is weekly charging, or to see what time it is), and it tells me I have a bunch of messages waiting, and I just get annoyed that it is bothering me by asking such a stupid question (I've had the phone ten years and never once said yes) and hit cancel to make the reminder disappear so I can get back to whatever it was I picked it up for.

        I'd rather the phone delete texts (and voice mails) silently as they come in or just not ever have my number text-able in the first place, but the provider doesn't have that option.

        The two ways to reach me are by phone (calling my landline at home, not my mobile) and email (which is also a stateless communication, subject to all the same lack of certainty). All others probably will not work (calling my mobile for a voice call when I am not actively waiting for the call) or definitely won't work (texting my mobile or leaving a voice mail on it). If you need to reach me, you know how to reach me, and if it's not worth a call, that's cool too; I probably didn't want to talk to that person anyway.

        Fortunately, in my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances, most of the ones I care to communicate with don't text either. I know, it's shocking to some people, but there's a whole population of us non-texters out there!

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: Or you can just phone me.

          SMS is stateless. You only know that it was sent, but this in no way guarantees that the recipient ever saw it ...

          Not necessarily. SMS does support delivery notifications, but you usually (depending on your carrier) have to turn them on to get them.

    4. Snake Silver badge

      Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

      "I have less than no use for any of the so called messaging services..."

      For me, this. It is not just the inconvenience of having to install everyone else's favorite app du jour, from Telegram to Signal to WhatsApp to Instagram to whatever they tell you is having its moment, it's the PRIVACY concerns.

      I said "No" to Signal once I found out that it transmits my entire contacts database to their cloud servers in order to automagically sync contacts, allowing anyone who EVER contacted me at least once to find me on their service. How about the fact that I only want to INVITE discussions, not volunteer to fall flat on my face into one with someone I never, ever want to talk to again? Ever thought that some of us use the contact list as a blacklist reminder, not just a whitelist, of people?? And sending *MY* contact list automatically, with no opt-out?

      Screw you buddy, you're out of here!

      It's the same with so many of these 'on top' messaging systems. They volunteer your privacy and then volunteer your full and unconditional participation in their plot for world domination all-inclusive business plan.

      If I wanted to talk to you, I would be already doing so. Which is a list about as long as I have fingers on one hand. This idea that everyone automatically wants to participate in some type of "social network" just because I want to talk to ONE person is utter bull, and I'm not going to be a part of it.

      Other idiots can give up their privacy, and their rights to make individual decisions. Not this idiot. SMS/MMS for the privacy win.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

        I sympathize with your complaint about signal. However, there are two things to keep in mind. The first is that they don't send the list to the servers; they hash the numbers and send the hashes to the server. So they don't have information about your contact list other than the numbers included, and don't need to keep that either (I'm pretty sure they don't). The second thing is that, because they've decided to link signal accounts to phone numbers, this functionality lets you use signal for the real security and privacy benefits to find people and only ever use signal to contact them. Usernames would work, too, but you'd have the same scenario as usual where you don't know a person's username and have a limited number of memorable ones.

        On balance, I'd prefer that signal just use usernames and we all learn to live with that, but the benefits of an encrypted message system that doesn't require a mobile connection at all times makes the hashing of phone numbers acceptable to me. Meanwhile, I do not want to use the other message apps, as they lack this benefit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

          An hash of a phone number? It looks to me it is quite easy to de-hash - usually phone numbers have a fixed format - knowing the user location let you know how many digit the number is a made of, and generating a rainbow table say with ten digits doesn't look a big effort.

          And if they tell you which "friends" you have, they evidently store more than a hash.

          1. MatthewSt Bronze badge

            Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

            Not quite, they do a hash of the truncated version. So they would know that you've got n number of friends using any of 100 numbers.

            Regarding which friends, the meta data for that answer never leaves your phone

            https://signal.org/blog/private-contact-discovery/

            1. LDS Silver badge

              "https://signal.org/blog/private-contact-discovery/"

              Yes, they write:

              "Social software needs a social graph"

              Are you a messaging app, or a "social network"? If you aim to be the latter and want to build a "social graph" (which has a big value for many type of businesses...) is evident you're collecting more information about users than needed for simple messaging - and remember, not all of the phone numbers someone knows should be sent to a third party, whatever hashed or the like.

              What's wrong with having the "handle" of a user through a different channel? Why all these applications are obsessed with slurping people address books?

              Even keeping "social graphs" updated and knowing the frequencies of your messages and to whom they are sent is something of value, even if the messages themselves are highly encrypted.

              Let's face it, phone numbers are formidable unique IDs, as people rarely change them often for many reasons - getting them in whatever form is a highly valuable way to track them.

              1. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: "https://signal.org/blog/private-contact-discovery/"

                "Yes, they write:

                "Social software needs a social graph""

                Holy shit. That rules Signal out for me right there.

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

          Usernames would work, too, but you'd have the same scenario as usual where you don't know a person's username and have a limited number of memorable ones.

          Why are you more likely to know someones phone number rather than their username?

          If you are using a messaging service that uses usernames rather than phone numbers, wouldn't you just provide the username in place of where you'd traditionally give someone a phone number? Any place you'd usually 'publish' a phone number you could instead publish the username,e.g. business cards, websites, yellowpages, social media, email (signatures), custom stationary, verbal conversations, etc.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

          "they don't send the list to the servers; they hash the numbers and send the hashes to the server."

          That's not as bad as it could be, but it's still not good.

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

      Quite simply, the lack of interoperability between services means that sometimes the only guaranteed way to reach a person is via old-fashioned text.

      Chat/RCS doesn't actually change this service guarantee; where either user/network doesn't have RCS/Chat the default is to drop into SMS. Given the installed base of mobile phones, the majority will only have SMS capabilities and will do so for some years yet.

      I'm a little surprised that RCS/Chat isn't a mandatory service for 5G and thus 5G client devices have to support it - gets around the Apple iMessage issue...

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

        "I'm a little surprised that RCS/Chat isn't a mandatory service for 5G"

        I hope SO HARD that this doesn't happen. One of the main advantages of SMS is that it doesn't do rich text or scripting. I'd seriously hate to lose that.

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          Re: You Can Phone Me Or SMS me; Period

          Yet another reason to use a dumb/feature phone rather than a supposedly smart one. Ok so we can't run apps, can't run the app of the month, can't look up cat videos, can't access online maps, can't check our email, & a whole lot of other "useful" stuff, but that ALSO means Google, FB, et alia can't slurp up our PII, we don't waste time watching cat videos on our phone (we watch those at home!), & have phones with batteries that last a week or more at a time.

          You're on an Apple, want to connect to a group of friends on other Apple, Android, Sailfish, Tyson, Windows, & other OS based phones, so which messaging app do you use that *all* of them will also be able to access? Answer: None. Because the only cross platform service that all of those disperate devices can use is plain old SMS. Plain old text, no scripts, no fancy fonts, no colours, no fekkin emoji, just plain. text.

          I'll cast my vote for plain SMS. You can cream your pants over the app-do-jour, I'll stick with a service that Just Works.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I only read it because it had a picture of my phone!

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Backwards compatible?

    Will a 'dumb phone' like a Nokia 3310 display a readable SMS message if it is sent one of these new messages?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Backwards compatible?

      Supposedly RCS does fall back to SMS.

      Having messed around pointlessly with RCS it still needs work. I couldn't get my phone to recognise another phone had RCS, and both phones were on the same operator. There was little I could do as it's all automatic after flicking the switch to turn on RCS in message settings on both phones, but it just didn't work.

      1. Adsy125

        Re: Backwards compatible?

        Unless both phones are on Vodafone it won't work. Sadly they're the only UK carrier to support it AFAIK.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Backwards compatible?

          Not in the UK but the operator does (allegedly) support it.

  6. TRT Silver badge

    iMessage

    They really should make an Android version. It's so useful for just sending a photo. BUT they can strip out all that crap that happens when you go into landscape mode, i.e. texting in bed, and all those stupid animal face video *pukes* selfie shit.

    Just send a message, send a photo, send a link. Maybe a case for sending a sound recording, but I cannot think of one.

    I know What's App does all of that, but it's a fag too, and never seems to work properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: iMessage

      The biggest problem I have with iMessage is that it blatantly lies regarding delivery.

      If the person you are sending to is an Apple user, and their phone/iDevice was recently on then it says delivered when that actually only means the message got as far as Apple's servers. If the recipient has since lost WiFi or data coverage your message sits on Apple's servers. There's no way force it to confirm delivery or to force it to fail to deliver, and you can only force a re-send by SMS after iMessage decides delivery failed.

      I've lost count of the numbers of times I've lost coverage while driving and come home to find a message saying "Can you buy some milk etc" appear as I walk in through the front door when the WiFi connects.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: iMessage

        "the biggest problem I have with iMessage is that it blatantly lies regarding delivery"

        iMessage tells you when your message has been delivered? I'd consider that a huge problem even if it were accurate. Well, now that I think of it, that would be fine. What would be 100% not fine is if it gives you an indication of whether or not your message was read.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: iMessage

          It tells you a message is delivered and also tells you if it was read (which is updated in real time) However, I think you have to enable the ability for senders to know if you've read a message. I didn't, because if I decide I want to ignore something you told me and deal with it later I don't want you to know that I read it right away and only chose to respond that evening...

          The meaning of "delivered" perhaps isn't clear here. Delivered means that it has left your phone and reached Apple's network, and been sent to the receipient's device. It does not mean the receipient's device received it - they'd need a separate "received" notification for that I guess. Once it reaches Apple's network it is off your phone so you can disable your network, turn it off etc. and the message will still reach the intended target - it is more useful as a way to know that the message is on its way if you are somewhere with poor connectivity where you sometimes have to try several times to get "delivered" status instead of an error. Apple's servers will keep trying to send it until it gets through.

          The "received" status would be something like "read" and be something you'd want to have opt in. I don't necessarily want any random person to be able to tell if my phone is currently connected to the network or not. What if I want to lie and tell them I'm in a place without cell connectivity? :)

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: iMessage

            "I think you have to enable the ability for senders to know if you've read a message."

            If this is true, then that's OK. I'll even give Apple kudos for (correctly) making it opt-in rather than opt-out!

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: iMessage

            "The "received" status would be something like "read" and be something you'd want to have opt in. I don't necessarily want any random person to be able to tell if my phone is currently connected to the network or not. What if I want to lie and tell them I'm in a place without cell connectivity? :)"

            Delivery receipts (to device) have been part of standard SMS since the beginning. So, unless it's something that US carriers intentionally block. you can tell if a cellphone has signal through that mechanism.

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: iMessage

          Plain old SMS supports to-device delivery reports. Many years ago, a mate of mine who always switched his phone off at night, started to freak out when I kept telling what time he woke up that day.

          He didn't realise the text I sent overnight would be reported as delivered just as he switched his phone on in the morning!

          As for read reports? I agree. Kill them with fire!

  7. Chris the bean counter Bronze badge

    Google should throw money at Apple to cooperate with RCS.

    With Apples cooperation (using Apples higher standards of security and privacy) RCS would kill WhatsApp and all other messenger services.

    If some optional social networking functionality could be added such as status updates, location checkins and photo loading this would hurt Facebook badly as it is all that most people want from a social network.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Google should throw money at Apple to cooperate with RCS.

      Better still: Apple should be forced to provide a standards-compliant RCS app. There's still room for private messaging, but universality is what most of us need, most of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Why should Apple be "forced" to do anything? Just because you'd find it more convenient? Exactly what law would you use to try to force their cooperation?

        Let's wait to see if RCS gains any traction before you try to force Apple into supporting it. Whatsapp has a billion users, and Facebook will do everything in their power to keep them - they are collecting lots of valuable personal information from those people and the last company they want to get their hands on that personal information instead is Google.

        Since Google's implementation of RCS doesn't support secure encryption it deserves to fail, IMHO. It is obvious why, they can't scan your messages to add to their collection of personal data if it is point to point encrypted.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Google should throw money at Apple to cooperate with RCS."

      No!! RCS is a Bad Thing.

  8. DropBear

    Except of course read receipt sending would be one of the first things I'd turn off - and if they won't let me, then the whole RCS process (unrootable phones aren't even considered for purchase). Whether or not I've actually seen something you sent me is none of your concern. If you absolutely must know, you can try to call me - and most likely have me not pick up for that exact reason. Funnily enough, those who aren't trying to spy on me seem to have no problem whatsoever reaching me.

    1. myithingwontcharge

      Delivery receipts are already part of SMS and guess what, every network charges for them. Per message. Even if you have unlimited SMS. So you go from "free" to an extra £10 on the bill and like MMS everyone turns them off or gets hit with confusing random bills. Any new standard including read receipts has to ensure it can not be integrated into a networks billing system in any way, or it will die an instant death.

      1. MatthewSt Bronze badge

        Delivery receipts

        A) aren't read receipts

        B) aren't exposed across all networks (O2 springs to mind, *0# doesn't count)

        C) are free on at least Virgin Mobile (I thought everywhere but can only speak for my own experience)

        D) can't be disabled

        Other than that... Spot on ;)

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    ObXKCD

    Add RCS to this...

    https://xkcd.com/1810/

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: ObXKCD

      I think this one is better.

  10. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    FAIL

    No encryption

    No thanks, I'll stick with Signal.

    1. Bogle

      Re: No encryption

      I use Signal on my smartphone, I won't use What'sApp as it requires pawning my tech soul to Farcebook, and day to day my old dumbphone, which is my *real* phone, can *only* do SMS (so there).

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: No encryption

        I've tried Signal...but the issue is the messages seem to send or arrive with a 2 to 24 hour delay.

        Not very handy.

        If you check up on this it seems Signal is at a loss how this happens. Not a very reliable service.

        They have...issues. That they cannot fix.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No encryption

      Except somehow signal now suddenly seems to store everything you've ever done on it's servers, to magically appear if you sign in from another device.... hummm.

  11. Stork Silver badge

    I am one who contributes to the SMS count. Use it for the family, and for customers as I never know what platform they are on. As customers come and go (literally, it is holiday accommodation), anything that could be not available on their phone is off - and SMS have better odds than emails of being read I find.

    Main problem is that SMS seems to be less reliable when roaming, or with huge delays.

  12. jason 7 Silver badge

    I use SMS...

    ...more than ever. Its the one service that every phone user has access to or installed.

    And it just bloody works. Which in this day and age...is amazing.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: I use SMS...

      The one service? Really? Have you never heard of "making a telephone call"?

      Kids these days ...

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: I use SMS...

        I'm very far from being a kid, but I think my average for actual phone calls is about two per month. Phone calls are for emergencies.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I use SMS...

        "Have you never heard of "making a telephone call"?"

        At the price EE charge me for my PAYG calls or BT my landline calls to mobiles - then SMS is a far more efficient method. It also gives both sides an audit trail of what was said.

        You can even SMS to a BT landline number - and the recipient gets a text to voice conversion.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: I use SMS...

      - Usually works

      - No advertisements

      - No extra purchases

      - No usage charges

      - Widely adopted

      In the US, that's only SMS. Most of the other services spew adverts or are unreliable. SMS only loses its advantage when texting countries where SMS still has fees.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: I use SMS...

        There are usually usage charges for SMS unless you're on an already-too-expensive plan that makes them unlimited. When those charges exist, they are the ones that don't make any sense because they're orders of magnitude greater than they should be. It's nice that it just works, but most mobile providers figured that out and will charge you as much as they can, either by the message or to give you the ability to send maybe a couple megabytes each month (unlimited, though).

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I use SMS...

          "There are usually usage charges for SMS unless you're on an already-too-expensive plan that makes them unlimited."

          Not so much, in the US, anyway. I use a cheap national prepaid plan and don't get usage charges for SMS.

          1. Updraft102 Silver badge

            Re: I use SMS...

            I use a cheap prepaid plan ($20 every 3 months) and SMS messages cost money to send OR read, and I am also in the US. I don't care, though, as my mobile phone is more for emergency use if I have car trouble while out and about or such. I'll use it to coordinate while out and about if necessary, but usually the people I arrange to meet are old-school like me, so we plan everything as if we never had the things in the first place. The phone only gets used when plans break down.

            When I am home, I don't pay any attention to the mobile. I don't know if it's because my high frequency hearing is poor at my age or because I just tune it out, but the only noise it makes that I hear, typically, is its low battery alert. I use a land line for actual communications, and it doesn't have any text capability. Leaving a message there will trigger a bright yellow flashing light on my handset, so the odds are good that I will get that message.

        2. D@v3

          Re: usage charges for SMS

          Not so much in the UK, at least not these days.

          On the 4 main players, all their 'lowest cost' pay monthly deals come with unlimited texts, and most of them are unlimited calls as well.

          Back in my younger days, it was common to be 10p per text, some would do free to same network. Until recently you would get bundled messages, say 250 a month often up to 1000 a month, but these days, it is uncommon to get anything other than 'unlimited' unless you are on PAYG.

  13. Barry Rueger

    Trust Google? Never.

    Aside from the sheer ubiquity of SMS, which Google will never match, the risk in this scheme is Google's track record in crippling or shutting down apps and services.

    I actually expect that SMS will survive long after I've logged out, but anything Google will be lucky to last five years.

  14. iron Silver badge

    It was me. I refuse to use anything connected with Slurpy McBookFace and I had a lot of messages to send at Hogmanay. :)

  15. JohnFen Silver badge

    SMS is dead?

    That's news to me, as it's my primary person-to-person communications channel.

  16. Wam

    Use of 2FA on the rise might account for some of the increase I would have thought?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Nobody should be using SMS for 2FA.

      1. Brenda McViking
        Facepalm

        You're not wrong.

        However, The EU thinks that its a good idea for banks to use SMS 2FA, and have started mandating it for online transactions above a certain amount. Because they're never wrong about this stuff. Ever. No siree. Not a chance.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          So the EU's position is not only that insecurity should be mandated, but also that people without cell phones should not be able to complete online transactions above a certain amount?

        2. Stork Silver badge

          Interesting. I am still on the old system with my Danish bank (they don't seem to be able to send sms to foreign numbers) and have not heard of any chance. Read access is with uid/pw, transactions require a six-digit number from a list they sent. Every number is only used once and after 128 transactions you need a new list.

  17. Spamfast
    Pirate

    Con Man's Delight

    What hacked me off in the UK is that you can be charged for receiving an SMS message.

    This is supposed to be so that services you've signed up to that send you status updates about things like your airport departure can collect revenue. (The service was free for flights from Hamburg Airport even to a non-German mobile number but cost per text at Heathrow to a UK one but that's a separate niggle.)

    What actually happened was scammers suckering naive users into signing up for £1 or more per unsolicited text for services that could only be cancelled by sending another £1 text to them and often 'accidentally' losing those STOP texts - but not the revenue from them. Some even pretended that people had signed up and started sending messages out of the blue. Trying to get the mobile operator to refund the money was a nightmare.

    The regulator should never have allowed this revenue model - it's an obvious thieves' charter.

    Also, you can craft a text that appears to be from any source you like using a GSM modem in a PC - the origin field is not validated by the network. At least is wasn't the last time I tested this which was, I admit, a few years ago. Yet another way to con people into revealing too much.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Con Man's Delight

      "What hacked me off in the UK is that you can be charged for receiving an SMS message."

      That's insane.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Con Man's Delight

        Indeed, mum's phone got stung by this, some pratt company sent out advertising spam, but with the reverse charge bit set (not sure if the analogy's correct but the result was that she got charged 1.00 a text for spam). Sadly she was on pay as you go, so there was no recourse in 'not paying the damn bill'. Eventually complaints to ofcom from thousands of users, forced the company to admit their "mistake" and refund. By POSTAL ORDER!?

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Con Man's Delight

          >Eventually complaints to ofcom from thousands of users, forced the company to admit their "mistake" and refund. By POSTAL ORDER!?

          The problem is that there isn't really any alternative these days - other than sending cash in the post, cheques have to be paid into a bank account; although in this case it would have been appropriate to credit the phone accounts, for which payment records would exist.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Con Man's Delight

            "cheques have to be paid into a bank account"

            You don't have check-cashing businesses?

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Con Man's Delight

              >You don't have check-cashing businesses?

              No - all changed with the UKs implementation of the EU money laundering regulations.

              So basically, if you don't have a bank account, life is difficult...

              I suspect that in the original mobile phone erroneous charge's case, only those that complained to Ofcom actually received a postal order.

              1. JohnFen Silver badge

                Re: Con Man's Delight

                " No - all changed with the UKs implementation of the EU money laundering regulations."

                Oh, that sucks horribly!

                1. kiwimuso
                  WTF?

                  Re: Con Man's Delight

                  @JohnFen

                  Jeez! Don't tell me you Yanks STILL use cheques!

                  I haven't written a cheque (or even a check) in years. In fact to be precise, December 2015!!!

                  Everything is done online or via a card of some description.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Con Man's Delight

        Don't you guys get charged for receiving calls? That's insane :-)

        The "charged for receiving sms" thing is for specific services you can subscribe too, and is a way of paying for the service, that saves having to open some other account with your bank account/card etc.

        I agree it's a horrible idea, but it's not like you can suddenly be randomly charged for any old sms.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Con Man's Delight

          "Don't you guys get charged for receiving calls?"

          Only if I answer them, and I can tell who's calling without doing that.

          "The "charged for receiving sms" thing is for specific services you can subscribe too, and is a way of paying for the service"

          Fascinating. Sounds backwards to me. Where I live, you can pay for services through SMS charges as well, but you have to send the text to do that, not receive.

    2. D@v3

      Re: craft a text from any source you like

      That might explain why I recently got an SMS from someone claiming to be a bank i have never had any dealings with, about the status of my account.

  18. Old_Fogey

    Hospital

    My wife was in hospital for a few days recently. No wifi, and anyway her phone is a long way from smart, so even if there had been it wouldn't have helped. VERY poor signal for voice, and in any case loads of bored people listening. SMS was the only viable comms link.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Hospital

      I've yet to see a hospital where one cannot phone patients by either the in-room phone or by the patient's own phone, if they permit it (what with the concerns over interfering with the equipment and all).

  19. jmarked

    The boom of social media and internet really affects the use of ole reliable SMS. But still, SMS have better reach and coverage to date, maybe not until the single corner of the land has the internet connection.

  20. silks

    PPI

    Reckon once PPI claims can no longer be made later this year, SMS volumes will decline again :)

    1. jmarked

      Re: PPI

      It really seems like it would direct the SMS users when this happens.

  21. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    RCS can FOAD

    This enhances SMS with things like read receipts and better group messaging

    With "enhancements" like that, who needs vulnerabilities?

    it would be a good bet to predict that SMS messages will in a few years be RCS messages

    Not on my phone, they won't be.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Friends with contract smart phones and "free texts" tend to forget mine is strictly dumb SMS PAYG. When they want me to do something for them they only provide minimal information in an SMS message. That then requires several SMS message interactions to elicit all the details. No matter how many times I tell them to put everything relevant in one message - "what, when, where, how".

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