Twitter slowly turning back on the SMS spigot

Back in November of last year, Canadian Twitter users were outraged when the service had to end its support for inbound SMS (text messages) updates due to rising costs. Today brings good news for some of these users: SMS support is back if you happen to be a Bell Mobility subscriber.

Apparently, Twitter’s newly hired director of mobile business development, Kevin Thau, brokered the deal to get SMS support turned back on, and Bell had the “enthusiasm and eagerness to make this happen,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote on the company blog today. Thau is currently Twitter’s only business guy, attempting to do deals to make the service money. He seems to realize that SMS is an important part of the service for a lot of users. He recently told Forbes that the number of text messages passing through Twitter’s systems grew 1,000 percent in the past year.

And almost all of that must have come from the U.S. (and Canada before it was shut off), as those are now the only two countries with both inbound and outbound SMS support for Twitter. The rest of the world can still update its Twitter status via SMS, but costs have become too high to relay those updates via SMS to users throughout the world. Twitter is able to do this in the U.S. and now with Bell Mobility in Canada because of special deals reached.

Frankly, it’s pretty ridiculous that costs are limiting that aspect of the service worldwide. But finally there’s a growing movement against the insane costs of SMS. The service costs the cellular providers next to nothing to offer, yet they charge an arm and a leg for it and rake in billions.

But Twitter has dispatched Thau to Europe to hopefully reach deals to turn the feature back on there as well. And it claims support for Australia could be coming as well. Anyway, it’s nice to see Twitter restoring services rather than just taking them away.

You can find me on Twitter here along with fellow VentureBeatniks Eric Eldon, Dean Takahashi, Anthony Ha, Chris Morrison, Tam Vo, Camille Ricketts, Dan Kaplan and Matt Marshall. We have a VentureBeat account (for our posts) as well.


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