New Orleans, LA
fair up the comparision
To be fair, coverage on Mars is limited to two very local hot spots with a subscriber base of two.
Text messaging for the rest of us requires tens of thousands of towers and backhaul to be able to provide SMS functionality across 97 of the people or the roughly 2/3 of the land area, in the US's case.
It's been long known that SMS rides on a control channel that does not increase bandwidth requirements, at all. (Known since its invention, actually). The only real costs is having additional back end infrastructure to buffer and route the messages.
What's really happening is SMS is subsidizing data. The $30/month or so goes toward the whole package: voice, data, and SMS.
Concern over pricing is legitimate. It might be a little more honest to charge for data and just drop the pretense. But if one imagines a carrier with no voice and no data revenue, just SMS, how much would that need to cost to cover the towers and T1s? (And I know, all the less direct stuff like advertising, golf sponsorships, lobbying, executive salaries, etc.)
That said, this comparison remains pretty entertaining.