How to reduce your SMS bill by using applications and services?

Find out how the use of applications and services can make sending and receiving messages much cheaper.

Do you use your mobile phone more for calling or texting? If it’s the second option, you’re probably grumpy about the cap of 200 SMSes a day imposed by the telecom regulator. Of course, a big SMS bill doesn’t help. Yes, you can opt for the special SMS package, which is offered by most service providers and one that lets you send messages at a lower rate. However, this special offer is confined to a small number of people.

So, what’s the way around this dilemma? After all, texting is often a better option than calling up someone. A text message gets through even if the receiver is engaged in another call, it is a written record of sorts and, of course, a lot less noisy than making a phone call.

You can get past both budgetary and regulatory restrictions by moving from conventional text messaging, which is billed to the operator, to applications and services that are either provided by third parties or mobile phone manufacturers. Many of them let you send text messages, files, photos and videos to your heart’s content, as long as you can access the Internet on your handset.

The best part? Most of them come at no extra cost. You only need to pay for the data used in sending and receiving messages, which usually works out to be much cheaper than conventional texting. Here are some such options.

BlackBerry Messenger

0ne of the smoothest messaging services, BBM is incorporated into the BlackBerry handsets. Users can send (and receive) an unlimited number of messages, pictures, even files. You can add people to your contact list through their PINs (a distinct number that comes with with BBM).


1. You can send pictures, messages, contacts and files.
2. The service can be used even if you haven’t activated the full BlackBerry plan on your handset.


1. It works only between BlackBerry handsets.
2. You require a special plan as BBM will not work with the routine GPRS connection.

Best data plan: While most BlackBerry plans from telecom operators will let you use BBM services as well as push mail and Web browsing, Vodafone and Airtel have plans that allow customers unlimited BBM usage on their devices for as little as Rs 129 a month.


While there is no doubting the efficiency of services like BBM and iMessage, the fact that you need to invest in expensive handsets limits their utility. This is where a service like WhatsApp comes in handy. Just install the app on your mobile phone and exchange messages and pictures. It works across platforms, and though it is separate from your regular messaging app, it scans your contacts and automatically includes other WhatsApp users in your contact list, saving you the trouble of sending out invites. However, it is not free for all platforms. While you don’t have to pay for Symbian, it costs about Rs 52 for an iPhone.


1. WhatsApp works with all popular smartphone operating systems—iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone.
2. It can work over a Wi-Fi connection if the mobile network connectivity is erratic.


1. You need to download and install the software as it is not built into most devices.
2. It lets you swap photos, videos and contacts, but not documents and other files.

Best data plan: A monthly data plan of 1-2 GB should suffice for WhatsApp users. You will need more only if you want to send lots of media files.

The Appy Edge

Messaging apps do not charge per message or require a special plan. They work fine with your standard GPRS/ EDGE connection. If your network is erratic, you can switch to Wi-Fi.

Most messaging apps let you swap videos and photos, some even let you send files, without incurring any extra cost or requiring any special service activation.

When you use a messaging app, you only pay for the Internet data used, which is generally a small amount. This is particularly handy if you want to send messages to people in other countries.

It’s the best option if you travel frequently as most service providers don’t charge for roaming for GPRS/EDGE on post-paid connections. So you can text away without worrying about the bill.


iMessage arrived on the iPad and iPhone via the latest version of iOS (iOS 5) and the service, which is free of cost, has become a rage. What sets it apart from other services is that if the person to whom you are sending a message has either of the above two devices, it converts it from an SMS to an iMessage.


1. You do not need a special plan as this service can work with any GPRS connection.
2. It also works from within the default messaging folder, making it very easy to use.


1. It works only on devices running iOS 5 and upgraded versions.
2. It does not let you share files, though you can swap images and videos.

Best data plan: Any plan that lets you use around 2 GB of data a month, unless you intend to send videos frequently.


Nimbuzz combines several instant messaging (IM) clients, so you can exchange messages, photos and videos with your friends across a number of IM services, such as Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, even Facebook Chat. You can even use it from a computer and make free phone/video calls to other users.


Yes, this is a social networking site rather than a messaging service, but it allows you to swap messages, pictures and links with all your followers. You don’t need to install an additional program on your device and can access Twitter from a computer too. Its restriction to 140 characters may be a blessing or a bane.


1. It works across different devices and platforms, as well as from a computer.
2. It even works with conventional IM services like Google Talk.


1. The interface can be a bit overwhelming at times.
2. Using different IM services can be confusing and can slow down the Internet usage on your phone.

Best data plan: We suggest an unlimited data plan as Nimbuzz can virtually step in as an alternative to everything, from e-mail to SMS. However, if you are using it just to cut SMS cost, 1-2 GB of data usage a month will suffice.
The Economic Times Business News App
for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.
The Economic Times News App
for Quarterly Results, Latest News in ITR, Business, Share Market, Live Sensex News & More.




More from our Partners

Loading next story
Text Size:AAA
This article has been saved