Sending Free SMS messages, courtesy of your cell phone provider

Posted on October 1, 2009

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For those who do not have unlimited text messaging, this find saved me a bunch. Yes, I even use it to text myself. For example, directions to a party, grocery list, the name of my date (just kidding Allison).

Or, I would want to send a text message to a friend, but I am over my limit. The catch: You need to know your friend’s wireless company.

Most wireless companies have websites devoted to the function of sending SMS messages to its customers (and ONLY its customers). However, there are still limits to how many characters you can text.

Let’s look at the top four wireless providers in the U.S.:

AT&T and T-Mobile

Both require an online account in order to send a text message through their website.

At AT&T,

Users of myWireless Account can send text messages to AT&T’s wireless customers by following these instructions:

  1. Login to myWireless Account and select the Send a Text Message link in the Phone/Device section near the center of the page.
  2. Enter the AT&T recipient’s wireless phone number in the To: field. Only one phone number may be entered at a time. You don’t have to enter dashes as they will be automatically entered for you.
  3. Enter a message in the Message: field. There is a limit of 150 characters.
  4. Click the Send button.
  5. If the message was sent successfully to the AT&T customer, you will see the following message at the top of the screen: Your message has been submitted for delivery. Standard messaging rates apply for the recipient.

If the following message is displayed after you click the Send button: Your message could not be delivered because of the following problems. The phone number you entered in the “To” field is not a valid AT&T wireless number, then your message will not be delivered because the phone number in the To: field is not a valid AT&T wireless phone number. Messages cannot be sent to former AT&T Wireless customers using myWireless Account.

Note: You must be registered and logged into myWireless Account to view this information.

For T-Mobile,

Text messages can be sent from the Send a Text Message page located under My Services on My T-Mobile. Please be aware that you can only send text messages to T-Mobile customers using this service.

Both would say that their “walled garden” prevents spammers and 3rd parties from sending text messages. However, the process for determining what number is served by which provider is so time consuming that hardly anyone would do it.

Two more examples with links and screenshots:

Verizon

textvw

Go to the website and enter your message. You can even enter a callback number and a name. Remember that it counts toward the limit of 160 characters.

Sprint

textsprint

Sprint is my provider, so I use this page all of the time. I have the page in my Bookmark Bar in Firefox. I can also sign into my Sprint account to have replies sent to my phone. Truthfully, I hardly use that function. I always tell people to either call me when they get the text.

Bottom line: Poke around your cell provider’s website. I bet you will find a way to send free SMS messages.

Other suggestions can be found at the Harvard Business Blog.

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Posted in: Cell Phones