Have you taken your annual vacation for this year yet? And if so, did you leave your mobile phone at home?
Research into the subject suggests that mobile operators do not hold undelivered texts indefinitely. The question then is how long is that period and whether it varies between operator.
TelecomsMarketResearch has already reported on lost or missing texts, and in its UK Text Transit Test report for July 2013 found mobile operator Orange lost the greatest number of texts.
The report had noted the suggestion that mobile operators delete undelivered text messages 3-days after transmission, although the Text Transit Tests suggested that such a process was operator specific, and that texts were still being delivered when phones were reactivated after 3-days.
On 31 July 2013 at 22:10 hrs in the UK seven texts were sent from seven phones on seven networks (MNOs Orange, O2, Vodafone, Three and T-Mobile; MVNOs Tesco and Virgin). The bank of seven receiving phones (also on seven networks) were switched off, and switched on again on 12 August 2013 at 07:20 hrs. They were opened ‘inside’ a building initially, but after 20 minutes were placed ‘outside’, in a location known to favour the sending and receiving of texts.
And we waited…and waited! This blog is now being authored some 24 hours after switching the receiving phones on, and so far, not a peep from any of them.
There is the matter of the ‘Delivery Reports’ on the transmitting phones. These continue to show ‘waiting’ on all networks bar Orange. Orange is the only network to report that all seven messages have ‘failed’.
So there you have it. Texts are indeed deleted by the networks if the receiving phone is inactive or out of reach of a network for a period greater than 12 days.
Now I appreciate that if all the undelivered texts were retained for prolonged periods there would be issues of storage and retrieval. But two thoughts strike me about this.
Firstly, the service, which has not been performed, was paid for in advance.
Secondly, in the UK there have been moves by government for operators to retain copies of all e-mail and Web-searches conducted by the population for periods of greater than a year. One wonders if the UK government has considering what the retention of texts might mean, particularly given mobile operators currently struggle to retain 12-day old texts, let alone 365-day old ones.
One suspects that this is a problem of ‘server’ v ‘storer’. Workers complain about the cap placed on their e-mail inboxes, whilst the ICT team point out that the machine in the corner is a ‘server’. For it to perform its function correctly, it needs to ‘serve or kill’.
It is ironic that MI5, the secret service charged with monitoring the UK populace, might know that you needed to pick up a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread on your way back from the airport, but you could remain blissfully unaware of the fact. Until you opened the fridge and found it empty!
Still, one can only hope that the government insisting on storing copies of the vast number of texts sent every year might just mean that they are then available for delivery should we chance to switch our phone off for a few days. There might yet be a silver lining for users.
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