Texting is one of those things that I use every single day, but have no idea how it works. How can a text message get to the other side of the country within minutes? When you think about it, how far we’ve come communication-wise, it’s incredible. I mean, we’ve come from carrier pigeons to Skype. Text messaging is part of SMS, or short-messaging services. “Short” means it can only send 160 characters in the Latin alphabet (fun fact: in the Chinese alphabet, you can only send 80 characters). The main conduit for sending text messages and phone calls is something called a control channel. Your cell phone communicates to cell towers via control channels. This communication constantly is sending messages from the phone to the cell tower that exchanges data packages for phone calls and SMS text messages. SMS messages are useful for several different reasons: they’re more discrete than a phone call, it’s faster than a phone call, and text messages can be stored for days on a person’s SIM card if the other person’s phone is turned off. SMS messaging was created in the 1980s to work with a digital technology called GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). This all makes more sense to me now. The reason why signal is so important to receive phone calls and texts is because communication with the cell tower is cut off, and therefore control channels are stifled.