Many people have a "texting package" which includes either unlimited or a large number of free text messages. But many (including me) have no text package, because I refuse to pay such a high price for this service. How much does it cost?
- For my AT&T service, a text message is $0.20. For the best-case payload of 160 bytes, this is $1,342,177.28 per GiB (yes, more than one million dollars). That's kinda steep. If I text someone else that has a similar plan, they also have to pay $0.20, which means the real cost is $2,684,354.56 per GiB.
- You can get an unlimited messaging plan from AT&T for $20.00 per month. If you send or receive one message every minute, day or night, for that entire 31 day month, that comes to $3,006.67 per GiB, which is a much better deal, but still extraordinarily expensive. And that deal gets worse if you don't keep up with the 44,640 texts per month I estimated, with a full payload of 160 bytes each.
How do you avoid this cost? There are several ways to do it:
- Use Google Voice. For those that must communicate with others that send text messages, you can always sign up with Google Voice, get a number, and have your text messages arrive there. From that point, you can receive notifications via the smart phone app, and/or the web application.
- For iOS 5 users, you can use iMessage. As long as both you and the recipient are iOS 5 users, the messages are transmitted over the data network and do not incur any carrier costs. The trick is that you have to pay attention, because it will automatically use SMS to deliver the message if your recipient is not an iOS 5 user.
You can tell if the recipient is an iOS 5 user by watching the color of the recipient's name when you enter it. It will be green when you first enter it, but if it's determined that the recipient can receive the message over data, the name will turn blue.
- Use Google+ and its smart phone app, or another social network's messaging system. This works out really well if everyone is on that network and has the app installed on their phone. You can also have much richer interactions, including comments and photos that you can share with others when appropriate.