Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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651 words

I just tried to send an SMS message to my mum in South Africa. This was a very frustrating experience. A few years ago this would have been easy, free even, using the wonderful, efficient and easy to use worldwide SMS service provided by South African mobile phone operator MTN.

As technology advances and services become cheaper and ubiquitous, this service and any equivalent services were shut down for harder-to-use, less efficient, paid-for services. So to send a few bytes to a mobile phone somwhere will set you back some extortionate amount of money now, €0,1 to €0,2. Not that I can't afford that, but certainly quite a hefty rate considering the tiny amount of information transferred. Certainly a case of business 'logic' spoiling technology.

Still, even accepting that I'll have to pay for the service, this means I have to sign up for it somewhere, entering account details and all. That's annoying. My first try was with German web-mail provider GMX. I have had an account with them for ages. And while their site is ugly and overloaded as hell these days, I still appreciate their service, channelling all my spam loaded e-mail through it for preliminary scanning (apparently at a rate of about 50 messages per day being filtered out). So I thought, well why not spend a bit of money there, being able to use my old account? The even offer the practical way of simply billing my bank account with no need for a dodgy credit card.

First name invalid. Doing this, unfortunately I bumped into that old error message of them again, claiming that my first name is invalid. It has served me pretty well for past 26 years, thankyouverymuch. So, short of changing my first name, I guess they want me take my business elsewhere.

So, there I go to web.de, the other 'big' German free mail provider. Which I happen to have an account with as well. A bit of password-guessing later, I was happy to see that they give you a minimal starting credit to try out their services. Nice. Typed in my message, which was sent. – Apparently. Because I minute later I got an e-mail, claiming that the phone number I used was invalid. Which of course is bollocks. It just happens that their web site can't send SMS to South Africa.

Next try: MTN's new web site. That one will require me to have a new account and allow me to send SMS messages using that. Unfortunately you need a mobile phone to register for an account. So, another no-go area.

Final try: German sms web site sms.de. You also need a mobile phone there to get an account. But my brother registered one for me on his mobile phone ages ago. Of course I forgot my login information with them by now. And for good measure my login there doesn't seem to work, and they force you buy a number of messages in bulk. I don't want to send 10 or 100 messages, I'll probably send a maximum of three or so.

I guess I'll just take up Björn's offer to use his mobile phone and curse having to use a numeric keypad to enter text when there's a perfectly good gigaflop supercomputer with two full-size keyboards at my disposal.

Summary: In the laste millenium sending (and even receiving) SMS messages using a proper keyboard and an internet connection was easy, fun and even free. In the present, even when prepared to pay for the service, bad software just keeps me from doing so. They call it progress.

Update: I actually managed to send this message after all. But only by going to www.mtnsms.com, rather than mtnsms.com and clicking on the second redirect link on that page. And only because my mom's phone seems to be with MTN as a provider. So I guess I'm lucky or something?

February 28, 2004, 14:35


Comment by karim: User icon

hi how are you ?

April 22, 2004, 18:20

Comment by Guilherme: User icon

my girlfriend are living in pretoria, south africa…. i leave in brazil, i want to send sms to her…. bt im not finding sms free services to do it… how should i do it?

January 3, 2006, 21:10

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