Text messaging has grown from a simple value-added service offered by mobile phone carriers to make the most out of unused bandwidth, to one of the most popular forms of communication in the modern world. Also known as SMS messaging, which is short for Short Messaging System, texting is now a widespread medium for reaching out to others. It is estimated that over 82% of Americans now own mobile phones that can send SMS to recipients and receive them as well.
Text messaging is controlled by the mobile networks that form the backbone of the technology. Customers pay for the ability to use this service either by paying per use or subscribing to a package that allows text messages. Paying for this service piecemeal can be an expensive route for individuals and businesses to take Email to SMS . The key to sending text messages is having computer access to an SMS gateway, a portal that allows message traffic to enter a mobile network.
For individuals and small applications, most carriers make public SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, or email) to SMS gateways available. If a person knows both the phone number and the carrier of their intended recipient, it is simply a matter of looking up the correct format for the carrier and sending an email. This works as full two-way SMS, with any replies from the mobile user being routed to the original sender’s email. Mobile phone companies have an interest in avoiding abuse of these free methods and actively use spam filters and IP address banning to protect users.
Some internet-based services are offering customers the ability to send SMS to their recipients for free. Many of these services are offered by large web companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo, through their instant messengers, and Google, through their Google Voice service. Other companies offer SMS on an advertising-supported model.
For companies and individuals looking for more significant usage of this technology, entities known as SMS aggregators are available. Aggregators pay large amounts to mobile carriers to bind their own gateways to networks and sell their services to those in need of bulk SMS access. Using an aggregator allows customers to take part in cost and savings sharing from the wholesale distribution of SMS traffic rights. Sending traffic to an aggregator’s gateway can be done through web interfaces, APIs that can be integrated with proprietary software, and even HTTP commands.
Text messaging is a highly commercial form of communication. Unlike email, which has largely become dominated by services that are free to the end user, SMS still predominately requires payment. Some web companies have started offering advertising-supported web SMS messaging to users. Today there are many routes available besides mobile handsets to send SMS to people.