Texting Your Mum Costs More Than Texting MARS

By Gary Cutlack on at

In terms of cost per kilobyte of data, the Earth-based telecoms companies are charging us more per byte of data than the cost of communicating with Mars. Try wheeling that statistic out the next time you're trying to blag an upgrade.

According to enjoyably wild cost comparisons put together by Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, it works at as around $284,000 per gigabyte -- including the cost of building and launching the Mars Global Surveyor itself -- to transmit data back from Mars.

And when it comes to mundane terrestrial text messaging, using an average cost of five US cents per message and multiplying the simple messages up until you hit the same quantity of data, you come up with a cost of $383,000 to transmit one gigabyte of data in the form of SMS messages.

Slightly simple and a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but still. Taking into account the fact that mobile networks use existing, empty space to carry texts, Falkvinge comes up with an actual cost to the networks of 33 nanocents per text and an astonishing 15 billion per cent profit mark-up, which he claims represents an "abysmal failure" of the free market to set realistic costs. [Falkvinge]

Image credit: Nasa