If you are a Gmail user (if not, WHY not?) you can now send SMS'es free from your web-based Gmail client to (currently, as of 2012/03/16) MTN and 8ta networks.
I am hopeful that the networks supported will grow over time, so keep an eye on this link and scroll down to South Africa to know when you can hit Cell C, Virgin and Vodacom. A useful guide is located here which has prominent logo's displayed of the currently supported South African cellular networks and also explains how to use the facility.
I already had the SMS lab application running on my Gmail client (for US and Canada numbers) so one day I noticed this pop up on the side:
New! Free SMS in Gmail
Send free SMS directly from Gmail - just enter a phone number and click Enter. SMS replies are sent right to your Gmail inbox.
and realised it was letting me target South African numbers too. In order to use this feature you have to enable the SMS (text messaging) in Chat lab.
Added information on the feature is located here. The basics are as follows:
- Use the Send SMS box above the chat window and enter a number to send an SMS (or if you have Google Voice credits, to call the number) or select Send SMS from the box of options that appears to the right of your contact's name. If you already have a chat window option select Options and Send SMS.
- Sending an SMS is free and any replies you receive are treated in your standard Chat Window, and are billed at normal cellular rates.
- You start with 50 credits and even if you send an SMS to an unsupported number it bills you for one credit. When you hit 0 credits you will be entitled to one free SMS a day. If you receive SMS replies your credits will grow again by five per received SMS, so if you hit 0 credits just wait 24 hours and then send yourself an SMS and you'll be back in business with five credits! The maximum credit at any time is fifty.
For extensive information on this service go here.
Hints and Tips:
- Save the incoming Gmail SMS number associated from your account because this is linked to your unique Google Account! Any time you send an SMS to this number it appears as a Chat message in the Gmail account.
- If you'd like a higher message credit, send yourself an SMS from Google to your phone, and then reply. Every reply earns you five SMS credits. Effectively you are paying your service provider (e.g. MTN) one SMS in return for being able to send another five. If you do this once a day you can get five SMS messages for the price of one.