Rating: Text/SMS or email also consume little bandwidth
It seems that mobile phone users weren’t given much good advice on the best way to use their cellular mobile phones during Hurricane Irene which recently hit the East Coast of the USA. Eventually the US Federal Emergency Management Agency urged the public to “Use email or text messages…so that emergency officials can continue to receive and respond to urgent calls.” This definitely sounds like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. It came after so many people tried to call friends and relatives to check on their safety that the cellular networks became overloaded. GoMo News reckons that the best thing to have used would almost certainly be an Instant Messaging (IM) service such as BlackBerry Messenger offered by RIM.
On paper it would seem that sending an SMS/text would be the best option. However, this has several downsides. Firstly, SMS takes advantage of the signalling channel of cellular networks.
So, if you are going to clog the network up by attempting to communicate with loved ones, then swamping the signalling channel with loads of additional traffic (even though each text consumes very little data) isn’t ideal.
The second major problem with an SMS is that there is no acknowledge meant of receipt.
So you’re not going to know if some-one has received your message and hasn’t called because they can’t get through.
Whereas an IM service provides a much swifter response and if you’ve installed the very latest version (6) of BBM on your BlackBerry, you can get confirmation that your message has been delivered and read.
It is even possible to send your location during a chat session. That could be highly useful during a hurricane because it would immediate inform your loved ones where you are so that they can better gauge whether you are or not in danger.
Another advantage is that an IM service like BBM actually works over a GPRS connexion which is the absolutely basic of all mobile data connexions. You don’t have to rely on getting a 3G link.
Emails can also travel over GPRS and there are ways of ensuring that you get confirmation when somebody has opened the email. However, IM is easier to use.
So, GoMo News reckons the best advice authorities could give is to use an IM service to avoid clogging the network with unnecessary voice calls.