Mobile phones have evolved much since the time they first became popular as a necessity rather than a luxury. Among these changes include prepaid plans, touch screens, data access, and wireless headsets. Push email services have also become quite popular, leading to many people having “crackberry” thumbs from all the typing. However, one basic service still prevails as a popular form of communication: texting. Aside from calls, sending and receiving SMS messages is one of the more basic, but very popular, uses of a cellular phone.
SMS messaging has several advantages over calls and emails. They are memorable, and receivers can easily save the message for future reference. They are more private than calls, which bystanders can easily overhear. They are oftentimes faster than email, except, perhaps if you have push email, in which case SMS would likely be cheaper. Texting can also be a great way to communicate with large groups of people.
However, even if SMS is a cheap alternative to email or voice calls, it’s not always inexpensive in all markets. In certain markets in Asia and Europe, the cost of sending SMS messages is just a fraction of calls, and is therefore the preferred means of communication. In some markets, the cost of messages—both outgoing and incoming—might be a hindrance. In these cases, using free texting techniques can help make the service more accessible.
Sending free text messages usually involves using an online gateway to transmit the message, instead of sending it through your own phone. There are several online SMS gateways that cater to different markets. Here are a few notable ones.
- Gizmo SMS. The Gizmo Project is more popular as a VoIP system that rivals Skype and Google Talk. The free service, found at gizmoproject.com, allows members to call other members through a SIP system. The Gizmo SMS service, at www.gizmosms.com, meanwhile, allows any user to send SMS messages to receivers from various countries around the world. Note that the Gizmo Project had recently been acquired by Google, supposedly to integrate the VoIP technology with their own Google Talk. Also, the Gizmo5 client has a better, fuller-featured SMS sending facility, which runs on a desktop client, and not on the web.
- Text 4 Free. Another free service, Text 4 Free is another gateway that allows free SMS sending to various countries around the globe. The main limitation of this service is that you need to know exactly what service provider the intended recipient uses.
- Gmail. Apart from offering email and other related services, Gmail now lets users send SMS messages for free, at least if the recipient is located n the US. This can be enabled by opening the “Labs” setting and enabling SMS from that particular screen.
- Chikka. Chikka is a market-specific PC to SMS gateway, and it not only allows outgoing SMS messages, but also allows users to receive replies sent back by the recipient. The reason that Chikka can provide a free service is that recipients pay a small fee each time they reply.
Free SMS gateways are great tools for anyone out to save on cellphone bills. The main problem with these services is that sometimes the message is transmitted late, or is not received at all. Still, given the cost savings involved, these would be acceptable for sending messages that don’t require urgency.