Last week Twitter announced that it had disabled outbound SMS updates for nearly all of its international users because it has been unable to negotiate favorable deals with cellular carriers. Up until this point, Twitter has allowed users to receive incoming SMS messages free of charge, footing a bill that it says amounted to up to $1000 per user, per year. The service will continue operating in the US, India, and Canada (where Twitter has forged deals with carriers), but many international users are being left in the cold.
3Jam, a company that offers a number of SMS-related services, is looking to mimic Twitter’s lost functionality. The site has launched a new Twitter service that will deliver direct messages to users as SMS messages. Note: The link doesn’t work yet, but the company says it will go live some time tonight. At launch, the site will also offer local numbers for users in Australia, Sweden and Germany to respond to.
Unfortunately, the service has a few drawbacks. In order to take advantage of it, users will need to establish 3Jam accounts and maintain a positive balance on the site – you’re paying a small fee to restore something that used to be free. Twitter has considered offering a similar for-pay option to help offset its steep costs, but says it is currently uncomfortable offering a paid service that is notoriously unreliable.