Date: August 26, 2009

Author: JT

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SMS Via Your Email Client

This item’s a bit granular compared to most of my posts. But since the topic came up today, using email to sent to a recipient’s mobile phone, I thought it was worth sharing for you.

The first thing, is that unless there’s a specific restriction on doing so, most mobile carriers will support receiving email addressed to their mobile customers and converting to SMS for transmission to their phone. For instance, if you’re with AT&T, you can simply send an email to 1231231234@txt.att.net, and AT&T will transmit the message as desired.

Of course, the question you may need to think through, is, will my message arrive as intended?

Here are a few basic items to keep in mind, when using email to generate SMS messages to your recipients.

  • Free for you, may be a cost to them. You have no way of knowing what your recipient’s call plans may look like, unless they tell you. A recipient without a formal SMS (messaging) plan may be charged $0.25+ per message upon receipt. General rule, if you’ve received a text message from them in the past, they have a text/SMS plan and your messages will be well-received.
  • Keep message to 160 characters in length
  • Ensure your email format option is set to Text. HTML code, while unseen to the user, is transmitted and will obliterate the 160 characters.
  • Standard email components, such as ‘FRM:’, ‘SUBJ’, and ‘MSG:’ (dependent on carrier) also consume some of the 160 characters.
  • The sender ID, as displayed in the phone’s SMS inbox most likely will -not- be reflective of the actual sender info. Sending from results@jtpedersen.net may likely be displayed as coming from, ‘1010100004’ or some such.
  • Each additional email from the user will be assigned a new number (e.g. 1010100034). As a result, discussions will not be threaded.
  • The recipient may, or may not, be able to simply reply to the sender.
  • Just because you have a camera in your phone, does not mean you’ll be able to receive attached pictures. iPhone 3G for instance does not support pictures sent via SMS/MMS.

Hopefully this proves of some value for you. I’d be very interested in hearing of
similar email/SMS tips you’ve learned. If there are enough, I’ll consider consolidating into a simple document for everyone to download and share.

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