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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 16:23 GMT
Text messaging nears a billion
text messagers are developing a whole new language
Text messagers are developing a whole new language
By Max Foster

Nearly a billion mobile phone text messages were sent in January, according to the latest industry figures from the Mobile Data Association.

If you take the average price of sending a message at 10p, that means the texting business is now worth 100m a month.

Teenagers are the biggest text messagers, with children as young as twelve known to have run up bills of 60 a month.

Teenagers love the simplicity and secrecy of text messaging, but they often mistakenly believe that it's cheap.

Varying changes

According to the Carphone Warehouse, BT Cellnet and Vodafone charge 12p to send a message, Orange charges between 4p and 10p depending on the tariff, and with One2One it can cost either 10p, 5p or nothing, depending on the call type.

Text message fees
BT Cellnet - 12p
Vodafone - 12p
Orange - 4-10p
One2One - 0-10p
The total number of messages rose to 929 million in the UK last month, compared to just 756 million the previous month, or 322 million a year earlier.

The 18.6% month-on-month increase was spurred by a frenzy of 'Happy New Year' messaging.

And figures are expected to be equally high this month, due to a boom in romantic messages on Valentine's day.

Watchdog monitoring

Telecom watchdog Oftel is to investigate whether Britain's 40 million mobile phone users are increasingly sending text messages to avoid higher call charges for mobile phones.


The growth in text messaging could drive down the cost of mobile calls

Oftel
"Texting is a very conspicous development and we want to see what effect it has had on the market," said an Oftel spokeswoman.

"It is a possibility that the growth in text messaging could drive down the cost of mobile calls," she added.

Vodafone and BT Cellnet says that the number of spoken calls made from mobiles is also continuing to grow, albeit at a much slower rate.

"There will always be a demand for making calls to and from mobiles irrespective of the growth of text messaging," BT Cellnet's Carole Williams told the BBC.

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See also:

21 Feb 01 | UK Politics
'Hate' e-mails to be outlawed
14 Feb 01 | UK
WUBMV? messages set 2 soar
18 Dec 00 | Sci/Tech
Living life by txt msg
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