SMS deal bridges cross-Atlantic divide

23 Mar 2004

Up until now, mobile subscribers in the States have been unable to receive SMS messages from Irish mobile users. A new deal signed between AT&T Wireless and operators in 24 European countries, including Ireland’s Meteor, Vodafone and O2 in Ireland, will enable virtually all Irish mobile users to stay in touch with family and friends in the US.

The deal paves the way for Irish mobile phone users to exchange messages with some 20m AT&T Wireless subscribers, depending on carriers’ and individuals’ pre-arranged billing agreements.

To send a text message to an AT&T Wireless subscriber, European mobile users simply enter the country code and mobile phone number. AT&T Wireless customers in the US can reply or originate text messages to users in Europe for 25 cents. Unlike most other US carriers, AT&T Wireless customers only pay for text messages that they send and can receive unlimited incoming text messages at no charge.

According to a new AT&T Wireless-commissioned survey by London-based KRC Research, 66pc of messaging users in the UK were under the false impression that their SMS could reach the shores of the US – a misconception shared by mobile users throughout Europe, especially amongst Irish users who have family and friends living and working in the States.

The new international SMS service by AT&T Wireless now reaches mobile users in 50 countries worldwide across 120 foreign operators, including Vodafone, O2 and Meteor.

“AT&T Wireless is leading the charge to meet the growing need for text messaging services for billions of users around the world,” said Glenice Maclellan, vice president of messaging services at AT&T Wireless. “For many people, especially Europeans, text messaging is the preferred way of communicating with friends and family. AT&T Wireless’ global reach is significant for them, as loved-ones and colleagues are now just a text message away.”

According to the KRC survey, more than 60pc of mobile users would be more likely to send text messages to people in the US if they were confident they would receive the messages. Two-thirds of mobile users think it would be easier to stay in touch with family, friends and business contacts in the US if they knew they would receive their text messages.

By John Kennedy