Twitter re-launches SMS in the UK – But only if you're on Vodafone

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Whispers started to come out today about this, but Twitter has now confirmed that it has re-launched out-going SMS in the UK on a shortcode, but with only one provider, Vodafone. So while Vodafone UK customers will be able to receive SMS updates from Twitter as part of their package, and send for free to begin with, users on other networks will have to wait while Twitter negotiates separate deals. The free offer is for a trial period, after which sending a message to Twitter will count as a normal SMS, although receiving updates will remain free.

Twitter cut the ability to get your Twitter feed last August after starting to throttle the service down in November 2007. At the time co-founder Biz Stone said that: “Even with a limit of 250 messages received per week, it could cost Twitter about $1,000 per user, per year to send SMS outside of Canada, India, or the US.” Although they’d been able to negotiate service fees with mobile operators in the US and Canada, negotiations failed in the UK. TechCrunch Europe caught up with co-founder Ev Williams at TechCrunch 50 to quiz him about this very subject.

Word among operators then was the Twitter had behaved like amateurs, attempting to dictate terms. However, with Twitter growing like a weed in the UK now and being adopted by celebrities left right and centre, they clearly got back into a reasonable negotiating position.

It’s fascinating to think back to it now but mobile Twitter took off in the UK amongst early adopters – largely people in tech – precisely because it had an SMS service. Jaiku, the competing service which was bought and killed off by Google only had SMS in Finland, a tiny market. It languished on the desktop rather than the mobile and only had a client for one mobile device, Nokia/Symbian. Twitter’s API saved it, allowing others to develop applications to the point where we are today, with many ways to access to service.

Whether the Vodafone announcement will draw Twitter users to the network remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a more mainstream way for people to get into Twitter so should serve them well enough.

Here’s their full announcement:

Thursday, March 26, 2009
Full SMS Service for Vodafone UK Customers!
Extending the power of the real-time network globally through the simple technology of SMS is a driving goal for Twitter. Anyone in the world can update Twitter via SMS but receiving tweets on your mobile has been restricted to North America. Today, we’re happy to announce an agreement between Vodafone UK and Twitter. The shortcode for UK Vodafone customers is 86444 and you can activate your mobile in your Twitter settings.

What’s The Deal?

Vodafone UK has signed an agreement with Twitter allowing customers to send and receive SMS updates at no additional cost. Sending tweets from your mobile will be part of your normal text messaging bundle with Vodafone—there will be no extra fees. In fact, for the first few weeks, sending tweets won’t even effect your bundle. Receiving tweets via SMS on your mobile is totally free. Vodafone loves Twitter!

Making Progress

In the United States, folks can send and receive tweets via SMS at no extra charge. In Canada, Bell Mobility customers can do the same. Now Vodafone customers in the UK can send and receive tweets. Twitter will continue to make arrangements with operators around the world so hopefully your country and your mobile provider will be next!

  • Jason Kinkaid

    I pwned you.

    • http://uk.techcrunch.com Mike Butcher

      Respect dude.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/26/twitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh/ Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh

    […] For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • http://mediacityblog.com Michael

    C’mon O2! hurry up or i’m going to vodafone…

  • http://reviewsmanual.com/twitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-for-vodafone-users-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh.html Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh | Reviews Manual

    […] For more on the newborn UK deal, analyse discover our place on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sharron_Field/1500010852 Sharron Field

    At last! It’s been a long time coming; but it seems that Vodafone are a company with sense: – Because this move is going to get them thousands more customers – For 2 reasons:

    1) Vodafone are the only UK provider providing this service.
    2) Vodafone have the best UK coverage. (In my area anyway.)

    I’m thinking seriously about transferring my mobile over to Vodafone, even though I’ll probably get charged an unlock fee by 3. IMO it’s worth the money.

  • http://www.82123.net/windowstwitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-for-vodafone-users-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh windowsTwitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh | 82123

    […] For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • http://girlwithaonetrackmind.blogspot.com Girl with a one track mind

    About effing time. Now, how long until the other operators jump on the Twitter wagon?

  • http://geek.topnewsdigest.com/uncategorized/twitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-for-vodafone-users-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh/ Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh | Geek News and Musings

    […] For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • http://technews.comoj.com/2009/03/27/twitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-for-vodafone-users-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh/ Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh | Technology news

    […] For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • https://innovationworld.com:443/blogs/mobilenews/archive/2009/03/27/twitter-re-launches-sms-in-the-uk-but-only-if-you-re-on-vodafone.aspx Twitter re-launches SMS in the UK - But only if you’re on Vodafone - Mobile News

    […] re-launches SMS in the UK – But only if you’re on Vodafone According to TechCrunch, Twitter has confirmed that it has re-launched out-going SMS in the UK on a shortcode, but with […]

  • Axel

    I wonder whether Twitter pays Vodafone for terminating the text messages. Can be quite an amount.

    • http://www.jamesbody.com James Body

      I suspect that Vodafone are offering the service for free as a differentiator between itself and the other operators. If Sharon Field’s reaction is genuinely shared by many other ardent TWITTER users then we could see a mass migration to Vodafone.

      Remember – the REAL cost of sending and receiving SMS on-net to Vodafone is neglgible – so it is not as if they are really giving much away!

      • ScaredyCat

        The real cost is basically the same for all carriers so If, as you say, they’re not giving much away, then how about the other carriers follow suit?

      • http://blog.artesea.co.uk/ Ryan Cullen

        “negligible” is always a bit of a copout. Something needs to pay my wages, and there are quite a few of us working directly on ensuring SMS is up and running 24/7 :D

        Having it back on, I’ve now remembered how crap it is. I really don’t need texts from my mates who have now learnt they can tweet 50+ messages a day, without pissing people off.
        Think I’ll just filter down those who come to my phone to “breaking news” type users.

  • Fuggle

    “Twitter suers” … last para before full announcement

  • http://twitter.com/evarley Elizabeth Varley

    Looking forward to this being rolled out across the other networks.

    I’ve been trying out http://www.twe2.com which is a bit hiccupy, but not bad in the meantime. As it’s an ad-supported model though, it has to truncate longer messages and send them in two parts which is unfortunate for ‘at a glance’ info. Plus, one can’t just reply via the system which is a bit frustrating.

  • http://tripleodeon.com James Pearce

    At the time it was running at full steam, Jaiku was far more mobile-aware (and presence-sensitive) than Twitter.

    It had a popular mobile web interface, and at the time, Symbian was still the main ‘headline’ smart-phone platform.

    I think it died for other reasons than that.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan MacLeod

    I doubt 30 million customers are about to descend on Vodafone as a result…

  • kimbjo

    Don’t kid yourselves guys, this isn’t a ‘vodafone is so progressive’ deal. It’s a ‘twitter negotiated a capped deal’ announcement. TWitter is probably paying 1 fixed fee up to a certain threshold of volume. After that they have to incrementally pay a bit more… Since it’s on-net instead of just terminating from a long number, they can in theory justify this as being cheaper than before — but long story short twitter is still paying Vodafone.

  • http://www.neurosoftware.ro/programming-blog/blogposter/web-resources/twitter-restores-uk-sms-functionality-for-vodafone-users-mysterious-ad-box-gets-a-refresh/ Twitter Restores UK SMS Functionality For Vodafone Users; Mysterious Ad Box Gets A Refresh | Programming Blog

    […] For more on the new UK deal, check out our post on TechCrunch Europe. […]

  • http://www.flexta.co.uk/blog/index.php/2009/03/27/twitter-re-launches-sms-in-the-uk-but-only-if-you%e2%80%99re-on-vodafone/ Twitter re-launches SMS in the UK - But only if you’re on Vodafone | SMS messaging mobile marketing Blog

    […] to TechCrunch, Twitter has confirmed that it has re-launched out-going SMS in the UK on a shortcode, but with […]

  • http://pelushe.salbit.com/?p=60 Pelushe » Twitter re-launches SMS in the UK - But only if you’re on Vodafone

    […] messages received per week, it could cost Twitter about $1,000 per user, per year to send SMS […] Source file » Leave a message […]

  • radha

    Sigh. Be careful what you wish for… there’s a Vodafone/Twitter glitch. One you sign up there may be no escape from texts from 84666.. I’ve received about 30 despite three calls to Vodafone customer service. V frustrating!

  • Ryan Taylor

    I too am experiencing the problems mentioned above, as well as tons of tweets i send being repeated like a million times on twitter

  • http://twitter Ashley

    Be grateful if you aint on Vodafone, I signed up for tweets by text and in the past 24 hours I have received around 200 useless spam txts from Vodafone. It is impossible to stop these, if Vodafone can’t do anything about it I will be changing my mobile provider. ****ing useless so it is. I now have to have my phone on silent constantly, I woke this morning to 54 txt messages from twitter and I don’t have a block function on my phone.

    So frustrated and p***ed off!!

  • Richard

    I have exactly the same problem – phone is becoming impossible to use. The texts all say that I| wont be getting any more texts – an irony if there was one.

  • lisa

    this absolutely takes the p*ss i’ve had at least a hundred texts telling me i won’t be getting any more texts, this is so annoying my phone is completely impossible to use now :(

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/04/13/twitter-users-on-vodafone-uk-reporting-no-escape-from-the-firehose-of-tweets/ Updated: Twitter users on Vodafone UK reporting “no escape” from the firehose of Tweets

    […] on the mobile Web, then increasingly with new desktop apps like Tweetdeck. Then on March 26 Twitter re-launched the ‘free’ SMS service – but for Vodafone users only – and only for those with a […]

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