Twitter kills U.K. SMS updates in cost-cutting move

Citing high bills and no effective plan with a mobile carrier yet, the microblogging service has opted to turn off the delivery of updates via text message to its U.K. number.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

European users of Twitter can no longer receive text message updates on their cell phones, in a temporary move designed to keep the start-up's telecom bills down.

Twitterers can still use its U.K. number, +44 762 480 1423, to send updates to the site. But that number will no longer deliver text-message updates back to users, and recommends that they use the Twitter mobile site or a third-party client like TwitterBerry, Twitterrific, TwitterMail, or Cellity.

"When you send one message to Twitter and we send it to ten followers, you aren't charged ten times--that's because we've been footing the bill," a post on Twitter's blog explained. "When we launched our free SMS service to the world, we set the clock ticking. As the service grew in popularity, so too would the price."

The company has managed to find "sustainable" text-message billing agreements in the U.S., Canada, and India--the other three countries in which Twitter has enabled SMS updates--so those countries will not be affected by the change. The blog post explained that Twitter is continuing to negotiate with mobile operators to make it possible for SMS numbers to exist around the world, but hasn't gotten there yet.

"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 U.S.," the post explained. "It makes more sense for us to establish fair billing arrangements with mobile operators than it does to pass these high fees on to our users."