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Enquiry: Why Cell Operators Charge More for Cyrillic SMS Messages?
5.08.2011 14:00
Enquiry: Why Cell Operators Charge More for Cyrillic SMS Messages?
Only when you send an SMS from a provider's website

The Federal Antimonopoly Agency of Russia is to conduct an enquiry into mobile network charges of Russian operators, following claims that their cost depends on the choice of an alphabet.

If you are using a Russian mobile network provider, then you have a choice: you can send an sms in Russian which will be shorter, or using Latin letters which may be longer. As a result, in the first instance you may need more than one sms to express yourself (unless you a Twitter fan and mastered the 140 characters precision). Consequently, you'll pay more, too. Or you stick with the Latin letters and send your entire thought in a lengthy sms that will cost you less, but that is likely to bewilder the recipient.

Such is the conundrum a lot of Russians have found themselves in. In fact, there were enough complaints to prompt the Federal Antimonopoly Agency to start an enquiry. In June this year the Agency has already suggested the mobile operators to drop down per minute charges for phone calls. A similar suggestion has been made for roaming, too.

Currently, Megafon and Beeline, two leading mobile networks in Russia, both restrict their SMS's to 160 characters (Latin) and 70 characters (Cyrillic). MTS, another popular provider, cuts the limits down to 140 and 50 characters, respectively.

The problem here is likely to do with what has been plaguing the online advertisers whose businesses work in non-Latin languages. These languages (e.g. Chinese) are considered double-byte languages, whereby they have to abide by a smaller character limit. So, whereas in the Latin-language headline you could have 25 characters, in Chinese this would be no more than 12.

Similarly, while your Russian SMS typed in Latin letters can go on for 140-160 characters, depending on a provider, if you insist on using Russian, then you only have 50 to 70 characters to play with.

Although the issue at hand is rather technical than political, the enquiry is expected to voice their concerns to the mobile phone manufacturers. Watch this space: this may be the starting point for the revolution in technology.

Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian business Russian Internet Russian mobile operators Russian mobile networks  

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