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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 09:33 GMT
Text record smashed for New Year
New Year revellers with mobile phones
Picture messaging is also expected to have had a good Hogmanay
New Year revellers smashed the record for the most texts ever sent in a day, said the Mobile Data Association (MDA).

A thumb-numbing 111 million SMS messages were sent on all four main UK mobile networks between midnight 31 December and midnight 1 January.

The new record beats last year's 102 million by 8%, and is twice the volume sent on an average day.

Picture messaging is also expected to have had a boost, with more people getting camera phones for Christmas.

Happy new record

"The large amount of text messages sent at New Year confirms that most people see text messaging as a warm, personal and cost-effective way to greet their friends and loved ones on special occasions," said Mike Short, MDA chairman.

"The use of text is also expanding into picture messaging as people explore the range of mobile messaging services that are becoming available," he added.

Figures for multimedia messaging (MMS) have not been collated yet, said the MDA.

But some well-wishes may well have never received their messages because of network traffic.

Many may have failed to turn up or arrived hours later, according to mobile software firm Sicap.

Traffic jams?

The company sent out four researchers onto the streets with mobiles to test the main UK mobile networks - Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange and O2.

Each sent a text message from the same location in London, at midnight, but only three actually made it to their final destination.

New Year's Day 2004: number reached 111 million, the highest recorded daily total
New Year's Day 2003: number sent in a day topped 100 million for first time
Valentines Day 2003: 78 million sent, six times more than traditional cards
22 November 2003: 76 million sent on day England won Rugby World Cup
14 August 2003: 67 million sent on day A-level results were announced
17 March 2003: 65.7 million sent on St Patrick's Day
May 2003: 65 million sent on last day of Premiership
The fastest took 16 minutes, but on average the texts took two hours and two minutes to find their way through the networks.

"For many customers over New Year's Eve the short message service they know and love became the slow message service," said Per-Johan Lundin, Sicap's marketing chief.

Vodafone told BBC News Online there would obviously have been slight delays because of a 53% increase of messages their network had to handle on the stroke of midnight.

"The network stood up really well. Customers would have experienced a slight delay, but not all customers. That is standard for this time of year," said Bryony Clow from Vodafone.

"But we hold the text message on the network for three days and try to deliver it throughout that time."

O2, which said it handled the largest volume of texts out of the four networks - 37.2 million - added that the majority sent arrived within minutes.

"In the crucial 11pm until midnight hour, 97% were delivered in 10 seconds," said Dave Massey from O2.

"We know that whenever you have that high a volume of texts, some will be delayed more than others.

"But we are experienced in high-volumes, through Pop Idol and Big Brother, so we are prepared to deal with great volumes of texts."

Over 20 billion text messages were sent in 2003, a number which is expected to grow in 2004.

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