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more on Americans in Emergency text message scare!
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2006 14:23:06 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: April 3, 2006 12:33:55 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: lauren () vortex com
Subject: Re: [IP] Americans in Emergency text message scare!


Dave,

The fact that cellular services (that's voice, text, and data --
mostly served from the same facilities) can be configured to be
"reasonably reliable" under normal usage situations (or even under
high-traffic special events when extra equipment is brought in --
e.g. sporting events), says little about the behavior of the
typically deployed cellular infrastructure under stress.  Of course,
there are lots of U.S. wireless customers who might argue with the
notion that these services are "reasonably reliable" even in the
normal case.

The sorts of problems that we're talking about now relate soley to
emergency situations, such as trying to send out thousands,
millions, or tens of millions of unsolicited SMS text messages to
entire concentrated populations within a period of a few minutes,
how that affects the wireless infrastructure, and how people will
react to receiving those messages (including many who don't routinely
or ever use text messaging at all -- that's lots in the U.S.)

Add to this the fact that in the U.S., we've become heavily dependent
on relatively low capacity microcells, which typically have very
limited battery-based operating capacity if outside power fails.
Even larger cells have only a limited number of available voice
slots and can be easily swamped.  You think it's hard to get dial
tone from an ordinary wired phone during an emergency?  That's a
breeze compared with cellular capacity.

One of the key lessons of emergency planning in this country
(especially post-Katrina) these days is that you *do not* want to
depend on the public cellular networks for your communications
in emergencies.

--Lauren--
Lauren Weinstein
lauren () vortex com or lauren () pfir org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
http://www.pfir.org/lauren
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, IOIC
   - International Open Internet Coalition - http://www.ioic.net
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com

 - - -



Begin forwarded message:

From: Andrew Orlowski <andrew.orlowski () theregister co uk>
Date: April 3, 2006 4:12:04 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] Americans in Emergency text message scare!

Dave.  Before this discussion becomes too arcane, may I just point
out the fact that about a billion people in the world rely on SMS as
the most reliable messaging technology available.

SMS is the data on-ramp for the much of the world.

So are a billion people being really stupid?

Not really. If you go to Paraguay, Thailand, Uganda or all points in
between, SMS is the only universal data exchange that is widely
trusted. It's about reliability. It's an expensive proposition to "go
online" (as a Californian would understand it) in such countries, and
this offers little guarantee that the message will get through.
Hotmail, or Yahoo Mail messages sent from a cybercafe don't offer the
same level of assurance as an SMS text message. Once sent, that
message must navigate the oceans of spam on the open internet, and
spam filters ISPs set up to thwart spam.

So it's no surprise that texting, being so personal, is so popular.

When we read:

 Most people don't realize how limited cell phone capacity really is

The translation is: Americans Need to Travel More.


with best wishes,


Andrew Orlowski
US Editor, The Register
San Francisco CA





Begin forwarded message:

From: Patrick Traynor <traynor () cse psu edu>
Date: April 2, 2006 5:18:26 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] more on Emergency text messages and AB 2231

Dave,

        Lauren is correct. We talked about this very phenomenon in our
paper "Exploiting Open Functionality in SMS-Capable Cellular
Networks" in October. If you are looking for a technical
perspective, please see http://www.smsanalysis.org

-Patrick

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