No more Twitter SMS in the UK

Twitter have turned off SMS updates for anywhere outside the USA, Canada or India, because they can’t afford it. Mobile networks charge per SMS, so Twitter have been footing a bill they say averages to $1000/user/year1. They’ve negotiated deals in the aforementioned areas, but elsewhere it’s just too much. So here in the UK we’ll still be able to update via text, but we won’t receive anything. It’s a shame.

I don’t blame twitter at all, but it’s irritating to go backwards – I regularly have impromptu five-minute twitter exchanges, and they’re fun. And sometimes useful, too. A general I-have-a-problem tweet can reach lots of people, and often there’ll be someone who can help.

Having said that, the solution is on the horizon. 3G speeds mean modern phones can just use the Internet to exchange tweets (or whatever), and so bypass the operators’ extortionate methods. The data in a text message is insanely expensive: a 5p 150-character SMS adds up to £374 per mb.. But mobile broadband costs are far more reasonable: Three have a 3G tariff that’s £15/1gb/month2. There are already numerous twitter clients for mobiles3, so that’ll take over eventually. But for now: bummer.

  1. which, given their 250 weekly-limit, implies $4 per SMS. Seems high. talking nonsense. Actually implies ~$0.08 per sms, as pointed out in the comments. []
  2. My current provider – Orange – have nothing comparable, but they’ve always been a bit behind the times []
  3. particularly the iPhone, which I’m still lusting after, but the contracts are too much atm []


I saw the bbc article on 82ASK, a company who answer questions via text message, so figured I’d test them out. It took them nine minutes to get back to me with the chord sequence for the chorus of “I don’t feel like dancin'” – it’s DGACGD – so I guess I just paid somebody £1 to go to…Still, it’s an inspired business model, even if I can’t see myself using it very often. Other people had better questions 🙂 According to the article they get most questions during the traditional time of pub quizzes. Amateurs. If you’re the kind of person who’s going to cheat, why cost yourself £1 each time when you can put Wikipedia on your iPod?

Google Calendar SMS Notifications

Google Calendar has had US SMS notifications since it launched, and just added UK networks to the list. I entered my details and it seems to work fine, but the initial setup message said ‘standard charges apply for each reminder’ and I’ve no idea how much these would be. Standard outgoing message cost is 10p, but incoming messages can vary up to £1 (if not more). Even if it’s 10p it’d mount up over a few weeks, given how much is in my calendar. Still, it means I can theoretically add events to the calendar via SMS, which could come in handy.