The short message system, or texting, is indispensable. Consumers have embraced this cheap and effective means of communication since its introduction in the late 1990s. In the early days of sms, users excitedly sent messages through chunky phones with grey screens. Today, texting from a computer is possible.
One of the main reasons for the success of sms is its low cost. It is cheaper than phone calls. It is also cheaper on the part of the service provider to produce this service than voice calls. Users never have to worry about dropped calls or bad reception. No wonder consumers came to rely on sms as their primary medium of communication.
Emails and instant messaging quickly gained popularity when the internet exploded. Anyone can reach anyone, anytime and anywhere in the world as long as they have a computer and internet connection. But in the pre-smartphone era, emails and instant messaging can only accessed or used through computers. Even if internet cafes were aplenty, public computers carried security and privacy risks. Hence, it was only a matter of time until the public came to clamour for international texting.
Service providers witnessed the exponential growth and infinite potential of texting. They were only too eager to take this service to the next level international texting. However, international texting can be expensive. It can easily cost more than ten times that of a local sms. While emails and instant messaging offer free and convenient means of international communication, they are not as mobile.
The appearance of smartphones altered the landscape of mobile phones and services offered by carriers further. Customers were no longer limited to voice calls and texting. They can synch their phones with their inboxes, surf, download various applications to enhance the functions of their phones and send free messages through a secure network. So what is the caveat? It still boils down to cost.
One can take advantage of a smartphones features by subscribing to a specific data plan. Without a data plan, the smartphone is reduced to an ordinary mobile phone. Some smartphones offer internal networks where users can send messages to each other, bypassing the carriers meter for counting messages sent. At first glance, this network seems like the answer to lower domestic and international texting costs. It seems to be free and unlimited because of its inclusion in the data plan. The problem with this is data plans tend to be more expensive than traditional voice call and sms plans. Plus, there is no unified internal network for all smartphones. Only users of a certain brand can use their phone or carrier’s internal messaging network.
The good news is free and simple international texting is possible through numerous online sites. Some email clients offer a texting service for free or a small fee. There are limitations to texting from a computer. For example, not all carriers and countries are covered. However, it is still a step closer towards finding an affordable and reliable messaging platform.