The text message is 20 years old. But while texting is convenient, it isn't always cheap.
The text message is 20 years old, and has surprised everyone with its popularity during that time. The average consumer now sends 50 text messages every week and texting is now more popular than talking on your phone.
But while texting is convenient, it isn't always cheap. If you sent the average number of text messages on a pay-as-you-go mobile, the cost would soon mount up. You may have cheaper options.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch, said that two decades is a very long time in the tech world. "Text messages are old school," he said, describing the text message as "fairly obsolete". If you want to make sure you are communicating as cheaply and well as possible, consider the following tips.
1. Check out the alternatives
SMS messages are no longer the only way to communicate with friends using text. For those with 3G phones other options may be cheaper. For example, if you have an iPhone, you can message someone else with an iPhone for free (something to consider when your partner is looking for a new phone). BlackBerry also has a free messaging service for those on package deals. There is also an app that you can download for an Android, Windows Phone and Nokia (Stockholm: NOKI-SEK.ST - news) which will allow you to send message for free. Try whatsapp.com.
2. Get a package deal
If you have a pay-as-you-go phone, you may be paying over the odds if you send a lot of texts. At 12p a text on many networks, the average of 50 texts a week would cost you over £24 a month. For £7.50 a month, Tesco (Xetra: 852647 - news) mobile will give you 100 minutes and 500 texts on a two-year contract. If you want something shorter, 3's 200 minute and 5,000 text tariff costs £9.90 a month.
3. Keep it short
If you are paying for each text, the difference between brevity and verbosity comes expensive. Go over 160 characters and you will be charged for two separate messages.
The UK wastes more than £6 billion a year by being on the wrong mobile phone tariffs, according to Billmonitor a bunch of mathematicians who have put their skills to work on the complexities of mobile phone pricing. Billmonitor will analyse your mobile phone bills and plot it against any one of the six million contracts it has on file. The site, at billmonitor.com , will then recommend a best-fit contract for you.
5. Look before you travel
It's easy to keep your phone on when you are abroad and not realise the money that is racking up. If you have a 3G mobile, this can become particularly expensive, as data usage when abroad can be very pricey. Text messages can be a cheaper way to stay in touch, although prices are much higher than at home. For example, O2 charges customers 49p to send a text home from the US. Be aware of the costs before using your phone as normal.
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