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What do text messages actually cost?

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.

What do text messages actually cost?

Interesting revelation in the New York Times: text messages, which can cost consumers twice what they did just three years ago, actually cost cell phone providers nothing ... or at least, next to nothing.

SMS messages are apparantly so small (160 characters of raw text or under) that they don´t even count. They´re "free riders" slipped into a corner of the spectrum put aside for the operation of wireless networks - the teeny weeny data packets that go back and forth between towers and handsets.

So while you get dinged each time you text if you´re off a plan (or each month, if you do have one), that cash is pure profit to your cell provider.

Well, almost - they do pay for the data storage, which is currently priced at $100 a terabyte (a cost that is always going down as storage gets cheaper).

One terabyte will store a lot of little text messages - more than 6 billion. That puts the hard cost of an SMS message at less than a millionth of a penny.

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