Does cellular data physically exist somewhere once it’s transmitted or received? How does that process work?

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Additionally, if you’re up for it, what are the costs involved for the phone companies?

Unfortunately, googling this only turned up a lot of results about how consumers can use less data to save money.

In: Technology

Not all data transmitted is stored. For instance anything sent within an app would only be stored if the app developer chooses to do so on their servers.

Phone companies store a copy of each text message digitally with a bunch of metadata like time stamps and locations of cell towers. They host that data typically on their servers. Physical copies are usually just printouts of that same data.

ALL data technically physically exists somewhere, in some physical state, generally in electronic signals (such as being held in RAM) or on magnetic hard drive, however, so much data is simply held temporarily, just to be used immediately and then it is removed quite fast, usually replaced by other data, that needs to do the same.

If you’re talking about storing data, settings or logs or something, that will be up to each program/company/app what and how they store the data. But you may be (or not be) very surprised that logs and details of users are often stored and gathered pretty insanely by a lot of companies. There are lots of uses for having a log of exactly what happened and who did it.

“Data” isn’t a physical thing, it is a concept. Suppose for example we have a sailor on a ship who wants to know if the local tavern has grog before he docks his ship. He agrees with the tavern owner that the tavern will fly a red flag if there is grog. Obviously if the sailor sees the red flag he gets the data that there is grog, but the flag isn’t data. It doesn’t *contain* data.

Suppose there is no grog so the tavern doesn’t fly a red flag. In fact the tavern owner never even had the red flag made. Where is the data? It isn’t *anywhere*, it is an **idea**.

Cellular data is transmitted via changes in microwave emissions from cellular towers. The costs involved include the building, operation, and maintenance of those towers and associated network, along with whatever fees are associated with communication with the greater internet.