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Published: Saturday, 4/30/2005

Short messaging catches on in U.S.

Your computer can send messages to people who are away from their own computers, don t check e-mail regularly, or don t even have e-mail.

If the person has a cell phone, the Short Message Service (SMS) can get their attention, fast, without calling, with brief text messages: Call the office now. Where are the spare car keys? Soccer game is at 7. We got the contract!

SMS, or text messaging, has been available for years. It was introduced as part of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications. GSM is the most popular of the three digital wireless telephone technologies, with more than 120 million users worldwide.

The technology digitizes and compresses cell phone conversations, and transmits voice with two other streams of user data. One of those extra channels carries short messages, which usually must be less than 160 characters.

Wildly popular in Europe and Japan, SMS is catching on in the United States, especially among younger cell phone users.

However, many computer users and people with digital-based cell phones are only vaguely aware of SMS.

Text messaging is similar to both paging and e-mail. SMS text can be sent in various was, such as from a computer to a mobile phone or from one cell phone to another. The cell phone must be on a network that supports SMS. Some wireless phone providers charge an additional monthly fee for text messaging.

Sending text messages from a computer is simple.

Most cell phones automatically have an e-mail address. If you know the cell phone number and the cell phone provider, that combination usually becomes the email address and the address for SMS text.

A person whose cell phone number is 123-456-7890 and buys service from CellKing has a SMS address of 1234567890@cellking.com. Keyboard that address into your e-mail software and send like any other message.

Some cell providers, however, use variations. The end of the SMS address, for instance, may be .net rather than .com. T-Mobile customers use their phone number plus @tmomail.net.

Remember that the recipient may either pay for each message or have it subtracted from a fixed allocation of SMS messages paid for with a monthly fee.

If you don t know the cell phone provider, try using a SMS gateway on the Internet. These are sites for sending text messages with the phone number as the only address. Search for SMS gateways on the Internet, and you will find sites like www.smseverywhere.com. Be sure to check for fees and read the conditions of use to see what use the site may make of personal information.

With the length limit, SMS messages must be short but informative. Leave out a, the, commas, and periods.

In addition to using SMS for phone-to-phone messaging, cell phone users can use SMS services from a variety of Web sites to weather alerts, new bulletins, stock market reports, and other information delivered to their phones.



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