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Old 22-04-2015, 05:10   #61
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Re: Communications equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
When you say "email", do you mean "SMS like" short text messages that can be sent to and from an email address?
Yes it will send up to 160 characters (it will break it up into multiple emails if longer than 160). And if they do not have a cell you can send it right to their email address just no pictures or files. The unit pairs simply with a smart phone via blue tooth for much easier typing. Plus you have (or are supposed to have)instant communication with rescue personnel who can relay your emergency and coordinates to CG etc ( the unit has built in gps) and family n friends can track you just like a spot locator.

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Old 22-04-2015, 05:29   #62
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
Yes it will send up to 160 characters (it will break it up into multiple emails if longer than 160). And if they do not have a cell you can send it right to their email address just no pictures or files. The unit pairs simply with a smart phone via blue tooth for much easier typing. Plus you have (or are supposed to have)instant communication with rescue personnel who can relay your emergency and coordinates to CG etc ( the unit has built in gps) and family n friends can track you just like a spot locator.

Sent from my LG-LS980 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app

Ok, it works the same as my Yellowbrick, but does look more fancy with the screen.

"Just like Spot" to me is not a good thing. I'm not impressed by what Boatys Spot page shows us when following him, only the last 50 positions per page and no speed/course info.


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Old 22-04-2015, 12:09   #63
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Re: Communications equipment

msponer,
2 days ago, I answered your question / responded to your request directly....within a couple hours of your posting it...
Communications equipment
Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
I would love to have a conversation with you guys about what you feel 'the best' set of electronic safety and communication gear is for various budgets. Say for a $10k, $5k, and $1k budget, assuming only a VHF radio is already on the boat.
And, although you've responded to other posts here since then, you haven't responded to the one that answered your question / responded to your request....

So, I was wondering if you missed it??

In case you missed it, here it is, again....
Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
"Only a VHF radio" will not do anymore....
It needs to be a DSC-VHF Radio, preferably a new Class D VHF-DSC Radio...


A) You start with the $1k budget...(in order of importance)
--- 406mhz EPIRB ($400 - $450)
--- DSC-VHF radio ($200 - $500),
--- GPS ($20 - $100),
--- portable SW receiver (w/ BFO for SSB and WeFax reception) ($50 - $120),
--- handheld DSC-VHF radio ($200-$250)
The above is about $900 - $1100, depending on brand/model, and what you already have on-board...


B) In addition to the above, for the $5000 budget, in order of importance...(you can add as much as $4000 worth of communications / electronic safety gear, to the above list)
--- MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone, i.e. "Marine SSB" ($2500 - $3000, including antennas and ground system)
--- Class B AIS Transponder (Vesper Watchmate 850, at $800 - $900)

--- depending on WHERE you are cruising/sailing, to round out your comms gear / electronics safety gear under your budget, you have a few choices....(in order of my recommendation/preference)
Pick on, two or all three depending on price and how they fit into your budget:
- a second 406mhz EPIRB, or,
- a second DSC-VHF radio, or,
- a used Iridium handheld sat phone....(and you'll need an ext. antenna for it as well, and depending on the exact price of the sat phone, this might push you beyond your budget)



C) For those with BIG $10k budgets, in addition to all the above...there are two "paths" now....one is "safety" and one is "communications", as now their functionality diverges a bit...you pick one "path" and can spend the additional $5k...

Under the "safety" path:
--- INMARSAT C (about $3000-$3500)
--- either a second 406mhz EPIRB or a second DSC-VHF radio (if you did NOT choose them in the above "$5k budget")
--- handheld Iridium sat phone, w/ ext. antenna (if you did NOT choose them in the above "$5k budget")
--- electronic / active radar reflector (aka Radar Target Enhancer)....(about $900 - $1000)

Under the "communications" path:
--- INMARSAT FB150, or Iridium Pilot (~ $4500 - $5000)
--- a used handheld Iridium sat phone (if you didn't add it in either of the earlier "budgets")




All of the above assumes that the vessel is already equipped with all of the "required" nav lights, horn, signaling devices, flares, etc....and that the owner/sailor/crew know at least the basics of how all of the above works (which ANY layperson can learn for FREE in just a couple hours!!!)
And, to be perfectly clear, there would be variations to these recommendations, based on WHERE someone was sailing/cruising, and for HOW LONG they'd be there, and WHAT TIME OF YEAR, etc...
As, systems like NAVTEX is GREAT in the Med, and some other locales, but of little use across oceans, etc...
As well, as variations due to other "communications needs", such as whether the needed business communications, etc..


And remember, while many do not consider a good on-board Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/Cellular data, system to be part of their "electronic safety and communications gear", it CAN be....and I'm making the assumption that this gear is already a part of their gear on-board...allowing them easy access to weather info/data when in port, at anchor, or along populated near-shore/coastal areas....




Now, msponer, I hope this brief look at things helps you out...
If you wish to delve deeper, we can do that....but it will take me a while, so it might be quicker if you just read some of my earlier postings on these matters....



Fair winds...

John

I do hope you find this is what you were looking for...

Fair winds...

John
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Old 22-04-2015, 12:55   #64
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Re: Communications equipment

Muckle's words here should be amplified and highlighted for you all to read again, and understand...

So many of my fellow sailors and cruisers are forgetting that there has been NO SSB Voice radio watch required by ships/vessels at sea, nor by coast stations, since Jan 1999!
Under the GMDSS (part of the SOLAS conventions), MF/HF-DSC Radio watch standing was started in 1992, and became mandatory for all signatory nations and all SOLAS vessels in Jan 1999!
And, remember that even for a decade or more before that, most radio watch-standing was being done using "2182 Alarm Receivers", which didn't listen for a Voice Mayday, but rather were listening for the two-tone emergency alarm signal....(except for the two, 3-minute long "quiet time" listening watches on 2182khz...)
So, with the exception of the USCG, AMSA, and NZMA, nobody has been maintaining an SSB Voice Radio-watch for a LONG time now!!
(yes, the last "S" in GMDSS is for "system", and the GMDSS includes 406mhz EPIRB's, INMARSAT-C, MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephones, NAVTEX, SART's, etc....and while HF WeFax is not officially part of GMDSS, as of the 2012 IMO/Jcom Survey, HF-WeFax is being used daily by the majority of the respondents...)

I've written about HF-DSC extensively here and elsewhere, as well as written about the GMDSS and how we small boat sailors can utilize it / reap its benefits...
So, I won't ramble on and on, here....but I will say again that those that are still thinking that calling Mayday on 2182khz is part of Marine SSB usage, should really understand that this changed about 20 years ago!



This thread was basically in reply to many of my fellow sailors who were unaware of many of the provisions of the GMDSS, and in particular one individual who was assessing things like the legs of a stool!
Marine HF-DSC-SSB, the GMDSS, "communications stool legs"


And, for those that wish to learn about HF-DSC, here are some videos that explain things very well!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


And, if anyone wishes to look for specific references, I put quite a bit here...
Marine SSB Stuff (how-to better use / proeprly-install SSB, & troubleshoot RFI, etc.)





Now, Muckle, with such a great post, I'm hesitant to correct something....but I'd be remiss if I didn't...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muckle Flugga View Post
I am afraid I cannot agree with this and wholly agree with the two other posters that there is a large and crucial difference between HAM and Marine MF/HF DSC SSB. The latter, when correctly connected to GPS and registered with ship's MMSI is a superb distress signalling tool. All that is required is to send a DSC Distress message either by specific selection of nature of emergency (so, Fire, Flood/Holing, Pirate Attack etc.), which takes around 20 seconds for an experienced practitioner, or (not recommended but quicker) simply an undesignated distress by a 5 second push on the DSC distress button. These options will send a DSC alert on all SIX MF to HF frequencies (2187.5, 4207.5, 6312.0, 8414.5, 12577.0, 16804.5 kHz) which will light up the loud audible alarm and DSC distress message system of every shore station and SOLAS compliant vessel for at least 5000 miles. Most importantly, due to the ground wave in the lower frequencies it will be received by any vessel with its SSB on (so all SOLAS vessels by law) within the nearest 500 miles or so, which obviously means those vessels MOST LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO HELP YOU. I frequently recieve distresses from 2 to 5 thousand miles away. When in the Norwegian Sea or off the North Atlantic coasts of Europe these most often come from waters off Nigeria and the Bight of Benin, and they are usuall designated "pirate attack". In Asia the more common event is an "all ships" alert, usually by the Chinese, with some of the fastest speakers you will ever hear giving some warning or other about exclusion zones. Every time a set sounds on a boat (an unforgettable sound) I am commanding I follow procedure as radio officer, and note all details, determining whether I may be of assistance or whether a distress relay may be necessary. EPIRBS are superbly useful tool, but will in no way alert nearby vessels directly of your distress. It is only if the relevant MRCC station receives the message, AND decides it is a true distress worth acting on (far from certain) AND has data for nearby vessels (often not the case in very remote waters) that you will have much hope of having vessels respond to rescue. DSC equipped Marine SSB is an integral part of the GMDSS system and absolutely does not rely upon voice communications for distress calling. To think it does is to miss its MOST important emergency feature.
While the HF-DSC signals on the lower freqs will get thru to vessels near you (typically out to 500 miles as you state), and it is these vessels that are the ones most likely to render assistance / effect rescue!!

It is by skywave, not groundwave, that they will be receiving your signal...

The fact is, that most HF communications that takes place much beyond the horizon, is skywave....not groundwave...
Yes, on the lower bands, such as 2mhz, and 4mhz, the groundwave can propagate quiet aways (50 - 75miles), but once beyond 10 miles or so, is almost always MUCH weaker than the Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) signal....and certainly all HF comms between 50 - 400 miles is via this Near Vertical Incidence Skywave signal...
This isn't too big of deal here on a sailing website, just wanted to be clear!!



Fair winds to all...

John
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Old 22-04-2015, 13:23   #65
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Re: Communications equipment

dockhead-
"I have the same problem. I don't know why , but a gigabyte is just not what it used to be."
That's an easy one. Sloth, sloppiness, and laziness. Also, stupidity.
One email, sent the old fashioned way as plain text, typically bloats 5x larger when it is sent in the default "HTML+Text" format these days. One web page, which in the late 90's was often 20-30k in size? May easily be part of cascading style scripts and interactive technologies and attachments, including photos shot at way too high a pixel count for no good reason, and that 20k page may be 300k in size now. And still look pretty much the same.


When I connect to a web server, even forum servers, I sometimes see a "wait" glyph showing that data is transferring and loading for 20+ seconds, when it used to load in five or less. And really, it doesn't NEED to take any longer today--except for the bloatware.


As the web, and computers, have grown more robust? Sloppy programming and sloppy user habits have grown fatter, faster. Who even realizes, they could cut their email data use by 80% if they simply used plain text instead of the default "plain" HTML+text setting? Who remembers, you can turn off embedded image display (and transfers) to make web pages load much faster, with less data used?


It would be like asking the owners of Ford Explorers to remember to inflate their tires every three to six months. Ain't gonna happen, is it?
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Old 22-04-2015, 13:28   #66
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
msponer,
2 days ago, I answered your question / responded to your request directly....within a couple hours of your posting it...
Thank you, John. I read your reply with interest. I didn't write back because you wrote your thoughts so clearly and completely that I didn't have anything more to ask.

I appreciate you being a mensch.

I don't have recent offshore experience (our longest hop last year was only three days!), our new boat is electronically spartan, and so I am interested in how other folks would setup a communication system. Especially if they are not going to just buy the best device in every category.

I have a question about the M802 -- does one need to connect the separate DSC antenna before it will watch DSC? Or is the radio capable of listening for DSC calls without this extra installation detail?

Thanks again!
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Old 22-04-2015, 13:47   #67
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
...
Who remembers, you can turn off embedded image display (and transfers) to make web pages load much faster, with less data used?
Another tip -- use Ghostery. It blocks dozens of javascript fetches on most websites.

Are you guys much interested in ultra low bandwidth browsing? My wife and I have been joking about making version 2 of loband.org, that works with the modern web. But I've been planning to (mostly) give up on the Internet when we go back to sailing this summer.
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Old 22-04-2015, 13:57   #68
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Re: Communications equipment

Who needs Ghostery when it is so easy to just disable JavaScript?(G)
And more secure.


A VPN doing all that work sounds like it will either be slow, or expensive, or both. I think the trick is to ban automatic coding tools (great for the economy) and toss all the shoddy programmers into a mining camp in the Congo, where they can be of better use and less disruption to the world.
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Old 22-04-2015, 19:01   #69
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
...
I think the trick is to ban automatic coding tools (great for the economy) and toss all the shoddy programmers into a mining camp in the Congo, where they can be of better use and less disruption to the world.
I haven't worked with any truly awful programmers since the dot com crash. Back then it seemed like random homeless people and English majors were being pulled off the street and sat in front of a compiler. Management types thought with enough warm bodies, outsourced or otherwise, you could do anything.

The standards have been way higher since the mid-2000's. Even MBAs figured out 0 times 100 is still 0, and they need smart people who try hard. I haven't seen an automatic coding tool or someone who should be shipped off to the Congo, at least in the engineering side, since about that time.

It's super easy to make small websites like this fast. Frigging Facebook took PHP and MySQL way farther than anyone thought possible. If it isn't fast, it's because whoever is deciding has not decided that they care. Or just as likely they care more about having a certain ad network, or social plugin, than a few more seconds here and there. Most sites like this don't even bother to instrument page load times, and if they do, it's not measured for the guy sharing an island DSL pipe on an overloaded WiFi hotspot.

So blame the pointy hairs. Not the nerds.
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Old 22-04-2015, 19:27   #70
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Re: Communications equipment

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Muckle's words here should be amplified and highlighted for you all to read again, and understand...

...

Now, Muckle, with such a great post, I'm hesitant to correct something....but I'd be remiss if I didn't...

While the HF-DSC signals on the lower freqs will get thru to vessels near you (typically out to 500 miles as you state), and it is these vessels that are the ones most likely to render assistance / effect rescue!!

It is by skywave, not groundwave, that they will be receiving your signal...

The fact is, that most HF communications that takes place much beyond the horizon, is skywave....not groundwave...
Yes, on the lower bands, such as 2mhz, and 4mhz, the groundwave can propagate quiet aways (50 - 75miles), but once beyond 10 miles or so, is almost always MUCH weaker than the Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) signal....and certainly all HF comms between 50 - 400 miles is via this Near Vertical Incidence Skywave signal...
This isn't too big of deal here on a sailing website, just wanted to be clear!!



Fair winds to all...

John
Thanks very much John. I am sure you are right and I am no long range expert. I have my Long Range Radiotelephone Operator's License to UK standards and have read a fair bit beyond and use marine MF/HF units a lot. I was pretty clearly taught that ground wave propagates to at least 300nm and up to 500. It may have been a flaw in the training, and I am perfectly willing to defer to your knowledge on this, but that is how I was trained. Specifically it was stated that the ground wave "drags" in its lower oscillation which causes it to hang on to the Earth's curvature for significant distances over the horizon and is specifically NOT line of sight as is VHF. This is the reason that comms in the 2 khz and below ranges are favoured for any ship to ship of less than 300 miles regardless of the time of day or state of the ionosphere. I have always used it in this way with excellent results, and assumed that the 2187.5 DSC alert would reach all nearby SOLAS ships for this reason. I am quite happy to be corrected on this, simply wanted to let you know it was not in any way a mistake unless it was a deliberate simplification of the true situation for training purposes.

Thanks for your posts! And yes, you were one of the posters to whom I was favourably referring.
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Old 23-04-2015, 06:26   #71
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Re: Communications equipment

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Sloppy programming and sloppy user habits have grown fatter, faster.
Off topic, but one of my hot-buttons. I'm an IT guy nearing retirement. I remember when 128k of memory was a lot, and writing a program involved directly addressing memory bits. You had to write your code carefully. It had to be tight, you didn't waste a single bit, and once you were done with a chunk of memory you went back and re-used it for something else.

Now, frankly, I'm very glad that those days are gone. And I understand that in today's world the demand for new software is so great that it is impossible to take the time that we used to in writing a program. Still, "sloppy programming" is an understatement. A lot of the crap that gets put out there is just awful!

That's one of the reasons that I lean towards open source software. In my experience most of it is better than the junk-ware that companies are selling nowadays. And if it is not very good, eventually someone else will come along and make it better. Or, at the very least, if you run into problems you can get the source code and fix it yourself.

25 years ago I thought that by now software development would be down to a science. I thought by now we would be living in a time of fast, high-quality, well-tested, user-friendly code. BOY WAS I WRONG!
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:36   #72
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Re: Communications equipment

If you carefully pick your battles, you can live in that world. It does exist on the fringes of IT industry.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:54   #73
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Re: Communications equipment

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If you carefully pick your battles, you can live in that world. It does exist on the fringes of IT industry.
In many ways IT hasn't changed that much over the last 25 years, especially in big organisations like banks. However IT management has gotten dumber and dumber over that time
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Old 23-04-2015, 10:16   #74
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Re: Communications equipment

I think the Delorme Inreach (and probably Yellowbrick too but have never used it) changes everything. I would not go offshore without mine even as crew on someone else's boat.

Once you assume an Inreach is aboard, the pros and cons of other communications equipment have to be re-evaluated.

Why do I like the Inreach?

It is my primary distress beacon (I carry PBL's for man over board but would use for ship distress only if the Inreach failed). It has a SOS button to a manned distress desk. Unlike an EPIRB you know if the signal was received, can describe the type of emergency and assistance required, and be told the rescue plans and status. You can also notify rescue organizations of a problem without kicking off a potentially hazardous rescue. It's waterproof, and the battery will last longer than the 48 hours of an EPIRB. Unlike an EPIRB, the Inreach can be recharged in a liferaft with a small solar panel that I carry in the ditch bag.

Unlike a satphone, mine works fine from the navstation through the fiberglass cabin top with no external antenna. I've never had a connection failure. The text is transmitted as soon as possible (so far, always less than a minute). If it didn't work through your cabin top, you can secure it anywhere on deck (under the dodger?) and still use the iphone in the warm and dry below.

The 160 character messages can be sent and received from any email address and any phone number. Lat/Lon is included with every message. While you can type on the tiny screen, you'd only do this in a liferaft. The well done iphone/android app is the way to use it.

It's always on. Mine sits on the chart table plugged in. A tone and blinking light tells me a new message has arrived. I can send a message anytime day or night. It's meant an end to the once a day Pactor download drill.

The service is monthly with no contract. Turn it on via the internet in port (cheapest plan is $15/month+$0.10 per text) just before departure. The Inreach is only $300 to buy.

Anyone under the age of 30 will tell you that only old farts still use email and telephones. SMS rules. With the exception of GRIBs (see below) and blog pictures (that I don't do offshore), I haven't found any communication at sea that can't be handled in text messages with the help of someone ashore.

As to GRIBS, Ocens offers a weather service for the InReach that is not perfect but a start.

SpotCast Weather

I also use my son as a shoreside weather forecaster. I send a request for a forecast for a lat/lon and he sends back a single compressed coded forecast for three days four observations a day (2212SE15E6.2218SE15E6 is April 22 12 noon SE winds 15 knots Waves 6ft from the East, April 22 6PM ...). Storm information is another text if needed.

What has this meant for my other communications gear?

VHF radios - masthead and 2nd emergency rail mounted antenna and two handhelds. Folding solar charger in ditch bag (for Inreach too)

Ham and SSB - still installed but not used (I've never much cared for radio as a hobby - chatting on nets and DXing isn't my thing. ). If I didn't have the Ham and SSB already installed, I would instead get a 2nd Inreach as backup.

AIS - Receiver and transponder. I think the transponder is a MUST even offshore. You can't rely on large ship maintaining good radar watches when all commercial ships use AIS as the primary collision avoidance system. And since you know the name of a distant passing ship (and they know yours) it's much easier to have a chat with passing ships on VHF.
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Old 23-04-2015, 13:02   #75
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Re: Communications equipment

m-
So when a web page from a major site like Amazon displays all distorted and useless on the standard Google Android browser on my top brand name phone or tablet, I should blame the pointy hair guys, not the programmers at both establishments? Although other programmers seem to have mastered the same environment?


d0n-
There may well be something to be said for old times being gone. And for code being done at high bloated levels instead of assembly code. Although, that's like saying it is a good thing the Concorde is gone, who needs those fast flights anyhow.


But SMS and any system relying on SMS has to give pause. Granted, within the satphone system there's special care given to the messages, but anything that crosses into cell carrier systems can be delayed up to 48 hours without any indication of a problem. Famously demonstrated last time the Obama campaign had some 10,000 messages delayed that long, and I've seen 24 hour delays, personally, in AT&T and Verizon. And during Superstorm Sandy, a 50% simple non-delivery of SMS.
But SMS really is just "short emails sent over the control channel of a cell phone system". The cellcos don't define it that way anymore, since the new systems are all digital and the messages no longer need to go over the control channels but can be sent as/in "voice" datastreams. They won't tell you which way they are being sent, either. The old 160 character limit was imposed because the control channels sent on packet only, 256 characters including destination/sender. And the carriers often have both SMS and email gateways that can both handle the traffic--although again, they won't tell you about it.
Great system when it works, but all the hocus often obscures the real pokus. Even when you're willing to put some faith in companies that have previously demonstrated, they're only in it for the money.
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