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SMS Messaging to the Rescue

SMS Messaging to the Rescue

Wireless has long been known to be absolutely vital during emergency situations - to all parties involved. There's no doubt that what happened in New York and Washington, DC will continue to confirm this fact. It goes without saying that during such emergencies, the need for functional communications systems can take on a staggering level of importance.

And, while most mobile-phone cell sites are built with normal operating capacities in mind, when a very localized event occurs, they can quickly get bogged down by the sheer volume of outgoing voice-channel requirements.

To handle these situations many of the wireless carrier companies have mobile-wireless cell sites that are packed into a tractor-trailer rig. Such equipment can be physically brought on location to supplement existing services.

During emergencies, the unique attributes of E-911 can also come into play. Even though E-911 Phase 2 is not yet in place (i.e., the ability to quickly locate someone placing a 911 call from a mobile or wireline phone, there's still a real benefit to calling 911 - E-911 phone calls get priority over other voice calls. That means that phone calls placed to 911 are supposed to be at the front of the queue when trying to be assigned a voice channel to make the call.

But when voice calls fail, what do you do? In general, if voice calls are not working, there are many forms of instant messaging available. SMS text messaging or "texting" on your mobile phone or any of the computer-based instant messaging clients out there are usually next on people's lists for a quick and useful way to communicate.

An important fact about SMS that's not widely known, but should be, is that SMS text messaging can have great utility in situations where voice services are saturated.

Greg White, a product development manager in AT&T's wireless data group, says that SMS can definitely help you get a message across: "…SMS one-way and two-way messaging can still function well while voice channels are overloaded. Since SMS uses the signaling channel - the same channel used to set up and take down voice calls - it operates even when the voice channels are saturated. This means that SMS text messages are still transported quickly through the network."

So, even if you can't make a voice call (because there are no voice channels available), the signaling channel is still there ready to transport your SMS message content to its receiver.

Just another reason to know and use SMS or "texting" on your mobile phone.

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