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  • Hey downloaders and downloadettes, Trace here for DNews!

  • If youre one of the lucky few mobile phone users who have been grandfathered in to an

  • unlimited data plan, your days are numbered.

  • Companies left and right are dropping unlimited data or targeting those using more than, say,

  • 200 gigabytes a month.

  • Now, that certainly sounds like a lot, and maybe even like some users are abusing their

  • unlimited plans.

  • 200 gigs is about 200 hours of Netflix streaming, or 3 and a third marathon sessions of Game

  • of Thrones.

  • Clearly, these companies are just trying to recoup their costs.

  • Or are they?

  • Okay, data is sent over the air, by electromagnetic radio waves, similar to the waves used by radio,

  • television, and WiFiphone carriers in particular are limited to a certain spectrum.

  • Mobile data tends to run in the 800 megahertz range.

  • But that range means there is a limited amount of physical space for all the data to flow

  • through.

  • The reason is that each layer of the wave can only hold a certain amount of

  • information.

  • Basically, a cell phone has a virtual pipeline from the phone to the nearest cell tower,

  • which only has so much space in it.

  • You can only send a certain number of bits per second through your personal pipe.

  • In real life, this capacity is determined through something calledShannon’s law”,

  • which calculates the physical limit for the amount of data that can be transmitted per

  • second, while being bombarded withnoiseof all the other electromagnetic force flying through the

  • air.

  • So, when you upgrade your phone from 3G to LTE, youre upgrading the encoding of information

  • that you can fit into each slice of the electronic magnetic spectrum, and also how much of the spectrum is being

  • used at once: basically, youre getting a bigger pipe.

  • And that’s why each upgrade makes your wireless speed faster.

  • But those who stream hundreds of gigabytes from one device take up larger amounts of that over-the-air

  • bandwidth that other people could be using at the same time.

  • Even though weve never come close to this limit defined by Shannon’s law, our LTE

  • pipes are basically now full.

  • To deal with this problem, companies need to either install more cell phone towers for the

  • data, or develop new technologies which allows us to send data better.

  • And infrastructure development is incredibly expensive.

  • Sprint has plans to spend $15 billion dollars over three years just to add and upgrade new

  • cell towers, for example, while AT&T, they're spending $3 billion dollars to bring LTE to Mexico.

  • So plans to shaft the 200 gigabyte club might not just be about the money, but about actually

  • freeing up some space for the rest of their customers.

  • The real cost of getting the data from those towers to you is actually way more difficult to figure

  • out.

  • The information is proprietary, and of course, most of the companies don’t share it.

  • When it comes to wired transmission, one independent service provider in Canada, Radiant Communications,

  • said the cost is less than 5 cents per gigabyte.

  • Netflix claims it’s about 1 cent.

  • Of course, these are both established companies with infrastructure that's already built.

  • The cost of wired and wireless data depends on a variety of factors, including how much

  • infrastructure they have available and when you use your data, because you might use it at a high traffic

  • time.

  • One thing we do know about is how much texting costs.

  • As it turns out, texting is virtually free from a purelydata transferstandpoint.

  • Your phone is constantly in communication with cellphone towers, it is ALWAYS sending information

  • to let the tower know youre still there, which is how cell phone tracking is possible.

  • But when you send a text, it simply piggybacks off the existing communication, and in particular,

  • occupies, what is referred to asunused space”.

  • It’s like going on a road trip and bringing along an extra passenger.

  • Although it is nice to have them pitch in for the cost of the trip, the cost overall

  • is roughly the same with or without them.

  • And, in this analogy, instead of chipping in for, say, a tank of gas, the passenger is actually

  • paying for a tanker-truck full of gas.

  • Texting costs have been estimated to be up to 7,314 percent higher than what companies

  • would charge for the equivalent amount of data, which is only about 1/1000th of a penny.

  • And while modern unlimited texting plans don’t generally comprise such insane overages, texts

  • still cost more than 1/1000th of a cent for the end userfor communication that the cell

  • company was already gonna do anyway.

  • Whoever thought of thatcharging for textsthing, they definitely got a corner office.

  • And a parking spot.

  • But what if you want to get in touch with astronauts in space?

  • Can you send them a text?

  • Or maybeyou can use a radio invented in the 1890s.

  • For more about that super sounding communication, check out this video right here.

  • Are you afraid of losing your unlimited data plan?

  • Tell us about it in the comments, make sure you subscribe so more DNews and thanks for

  • watching.

Hey downloaders and downloadettes, Trace here for DNews!

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B1 US data unlimited texting cost communication cell phone

Why Unlimited Data Is Impossible To Maintain

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    李柏毅 posted on 2017/03/02
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