back to article Twitter falls silent in the UK

Twitter has stopped sending SMS updates to UK customers, thus leaving them unaware of the latest important updates on what their friends had for breakfast. Twitter is a service for bloggers who can't string a sentence together and who want to appeal to readers who can't focus beyond a headline. Updates can be sent in over SMS …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    with a cap of 250 messages it could cost them $1K a year

    Eh? An SMS costs about 4p when bought in bulk, 250 messages would cost them about £10. To get to a thousand dollars they'd be sending 50 times that number or 12500 messages.

    Not that SMS's aren't a rip off of course, there are a number of toys that would become viable with a 1p SMS rate that just aren't at 4p.

  2. Mike J Griggs


    i like knowing about breakfasts

  3. Chris Young
    Paris Hilton

    Develop a rival ...

    Time to develop a rival UK service, I think.

    I might call it "Twatter", and have people put a little "Twat Me" button on the bottom of their blog posts.

    Paris, for obvious reasons ...

  4. Anonymous Coward


    "UK Twits" - shouldn't this be "UK Twats"?

    I think El Reg should from this point forward refer to Twitter as Twatter instead, enforcing this rule as much as the one where there has to be an exclamation mark after every word of a Yahoo! article title.

  5. David Mantripp

    No free lunch, then

    Bugger. That's the end of using Twitter as a free SMS relay service then. I was wondering when they'd realise how much money they've been burning....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Please could someone explain what Twitter is and why it's needed?

  7. Roy Stilling


    Whilst in general I think Twitter is useless, the political party I belong to (OK, I admit it, I'm a Lib Dem) used it to send out news to members via SMS, and in particular to send live election result updates at the most recent couple of local elections. As an election junkie, I'll miss that.

    Mine's the one with the "Paddy Ashdown for PM" badge.

  8. M Devonport


    Surprisingly scathing of twitter'ing from el reg here, not everybody twitters the useless breakfast eating stories ya know! You normally have better understanding of social tech usage. Hmmm.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to ask....

    ... so if SENDING sms is free in the USA, and RECEIVING sms is free in the UK... why don't they just send all the sms heading to the UK from the USA?


  10. yet another Matt

    Kept it quiet

    I understand why they did it, and I don't blame them for it. It must be very expensive to send SMSs to so many people, on top of a very invisible profit plan. And I sure as hell would not like a system in the US where it costs me to receive a message.

    But couldn't they have told us by SMS before they shut it off?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    reverse billing

    i have four words for them "mobile terminated reverse billing" see how keen the twitts are when they get charged for every little pointless message they receive.

  12. John Warlow

    Thanks God the UK isn't like the rest of the mobile world

    If SMS was free to send, imagine all the shit spammers would be sending out costing me money to receive!

  13. Dan

    can someone please explain to me

    why sms is so expensive?

  14. Mister Cheese

    Random guesses

    1. I'd suggest that 250 relates to the number of messages per day, not per year.

    2. The hosting service in Yankee land probably rejects SMSs to an international destination, requiring the application to send using a provider local to the recipient instead.

    Penguin, to remind me of the summer weather we're not having.

  15. pctechxp


    Paddy Ashdown for PM?

    Might have agreed with you some years back when he was leader but he's entered the ranks of the toffs now so surely that discounts him.

    Charles Kennedy would have made a good PM I think as, like Paddy, he at least appeared human rather then the unelected dictator we have now.

    And the pedants will rush to point out that we dont elect a Prime Minister, yes I know this but those that did vote and voted for Labour voted for a party run by Blair not Brown.

    As for me I didn't vote because I think they all sound the same frankly.

    So to digress (was nice having a political moan) right Twitter

    Aside from the use you stated Roy, I think it was a pretty pointless service, bit like myface and fartbook, good riddence.

  16. Jodo Kast

    LOL good one

    "Twitter is a service for bloggers who can't string a sentence together and who want to appeal to readers who can't focus beyond a headline."

    Emo kids on the attack! Look out for their QQ cannons.

    They do not have logic... only emotion.

  17. dervheid
    Thumb Up

    You mean to say...

    that these 'twittering' in-duh-viduals (appropriate term, coined by Scott 'Dilbert' Adams) might actually have to develop Real Social Skills.

    Like talking using actual vocally produced language.

    never happen!

    (twittering is what the birds do. appropriate, given the average twitterer's likely brain capacity)

  18. Robert Dorrian
    Paris Hilton


    The 250 sms limit is per week.

    "To get to a thousand dollars they'd be sending 50 times that number"

    How many week does your year have Jon?

    Paris, because she can count to 52.

  19. Daniel Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ AC re: Typo?

    You are Chris Young, and I claim my 5 pounds.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    250 message a week. That's why it's 50 times what you think it is. At 4pence a message (standard bulk cost) it's still £520 or US$1000 a year.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Robert Dorrian

    Yes, clearly, now if you look through the article for the word "week" you may understand.

  22. paul
    IT Angle


    because we cant have the telcos not making any profit can we - still paying for those 3G lisc and bubbly at the shareholders meetings.

    Competition - not likey given the barriers of entry into that industry.

  23. Bad Beaver

    @ Dan

    SMS is so expensive because providers like to rake in a profit. Also, milking punters for something they love to use and that by itself costs next to nothing appeals to providers' on terms of being greedy and evil. And why? Because they can.

    As for Twitter falling silent — GOOD! The less services allowing your "friends" to impose their minor thoughts upon you the better. Call me sociophobic, but I could not care less whether bloke X had a good crap after returning from fetching groceries or gal Y just had her nails done and now feels bored.

  24. Jared Earle

    Why so down on Twitter?

    "Why do we need mobile phones? People can phone me when I'm back in my armchair, on my timetable."

    Yeah, that's what you luddites sound like.

    Much like the first bloggers blogged about their breakfast (in fact I admit my first blog post, back in the 20th century, was about my breakfast) until they evolved into journalists and the like, tweeters are sometimes useless breakfast bloggers, but the service itself has proven to be a useful information vector, like blogging has.

    Micro-blogging has yet to really find its voice, but it's moving away from "Status messages" and breakfast, thankfully. The best thing is that you choose who to follow, meaning you can unsub from anyone pointlessly twatting their location/breakfast into the ether.

    But yes, El Reg comments are becoming more like HYS. "Hanging's too good for the Muesli-Munchers, Jesusphone this, Twat that, kids today, eh?"

    Luddites today, eh? Send 'em back to meatspace, I say.

  25. Chris


    Harsh comments... I use Twitter though must admit I use it less than Facebook now (if that's OK with you lot, or would you like to ban anything else while you're at it)? What a bunch of bullies.

  26. bothwell
    Thumb Up


    Please could someone explain what Twitter is and why it's needed?

    It is needed so that people can follow the updates from the Mars Phoenix lander. Aside from that, nothing.

  27. Steve Anderson


    SMS is expensive because it can be. Captive audience - charge what you like.

    If you assume you're paying 10p for an SMS, that's 10p for 140 bytes (7-bit encoding, hence 160 characters). 1 Kilobyte costs 73p at that rate. The 48K in my Spectrum - £35.11. Upping the ante to a 700 Mb CD-ROM - over £52.4 million. 4.7Gb single layer DVD-R is well over £360 million.

    It makes the stories of £2000 roaming charges for people with Jesus Phones look like a drop in the ocean!

    Not sure what the limit to an MMS message is, but back when I was with Virgin Mobile PAYG my phone would send 100Kb maximum and I'd be paying 30p for the message, making it up to 243.8 times cheaper, byte-for-byte.

    I worked all this out on a very long, very delayed, very boring train ride...

  28. pctechxp


    Now there's a real hang out for saddos, on a par with Sadville (second life)

    Least if I fill in a market research questionnair I might get something like an M&S voucher out of it (spend on sandwich steak, BBQ chicken pizza, hmmmm) but get sod all from filling in questionnaires from my 'friends' aside from the satisfaction that I'm ranked the most helpful.

    suppose you got to use them inclusive texts some way but you'll have to do something different now.

  29. Iain Campbell
    IT Angle

    @ Jared

    People that don't jump on the latest bandwagon aren't luddites - they've just seen the hype before and don't subscribe to the latest fad.

    I'm a fan of Facebook, because I can catch up with old friends. I hate MySpace because it's a visual abomination and I don't have the time to sift through the cr*p.

    Flickr's great if you're into photography or just looking to document your life. Then there are a multitude of other sites that keep you up to date with everything you could ever wish for...


    ...I actually have a life that exists outside of the internet. To get constant updates on what my friends are doing is of absolutely no interest to me - if I want to know what they're doing at any point in time then I'll log on to Facebook. Or (shock horror!) I'll phone them and actually meet IRL.

    I have my own life to lead. Twitter - to me - is just irritating, intrusive and downright pointless. If I'm windsurfing, do I really care if my mate is shopping for a donkey pouch in Ann Summers?

    Micro-blogging my ar*e. Twitter has it's niche but if you want it then you should pay for it IMHO. Then see how the usage drops...

    IT? because the OP is obviously 12.

  30. Darren7160

    Why is it so expensive?

    As has been mentioned... because they can. A voice call stays connected for the duration, there is information being conveyed at all times, even if it is silence. A text message can be sent, queued, and then delivered over lines, that if not passing traffic are still being paid for... so, the cost is the value of what they can get away with charging... so when they say that it costs x amount that isn't real dollars, that is just what they value it at. Think of placing a value of $1000 on on my time... if I take 8 hours off then I am losing $8000! However, if you hire me at $20 an hour, I am losing $880 an hour but look at the value you will be getting!!!!

    I hate accounting. Ask any actor if he would be willing to take a percentage of Net!

  31. Jodo Kast


    I appreciate your responses.

    Quite enlightening!

  32. Paul

    Twitter is nothing new

    Back in 1996, a dude called Jon Anderson wired up a Nokia handset to a Linux box (or was it FreeBSD?) and charged folk £2 a month for an email to SMS gateway - and - an sms chat community based around public and private 'channels'. Basically the same idea.

    This lasted until about 2001 when Orange cut off Jon's special unlimited SMS deal. How history would seem to repeat itself, only with less innovative people wasting more money....

  33. Jared Earle

    @ Iain

    If your friends are tweeting about their bloody shopping, then yes, stop listening to them. Twitter isn't the latest bandwagon by a long shot. I resisted it for months (the equivalent of 20th century years) before finally succumbing.

    If you don't like it, don't use it. No pressure.

    Oh, and some people seem to think this means that Twitter no longer works in the UK. It does, it's just the SMS part that doesn't work. I won't miss this myself as it was an intrusion I turned off after half a day.

  34. Andy Watt

    @Dan - expensive SMS

    The irony is, SMS was put in to GSM to take up slack in a spare half-channel left over after all the control channels were put together in GSM... it's an afterthought!

    I've always thought that was ironic given Voidaphone's inability to charge less than 10p for a bloody text (although there are loads of inclusives these days, of course).

    Basically I'm saying it's because it's a widely used feature which they can charge for. They made the same mistake with MMS, charged too much (and the initial editors on phones were pants too) and no bugger used it (and they still don't).

    Video calling? Well, well, well. So many killer apps killed stone dead by greed!

  35. Ray Anderson

    Twitter shuts down SMS service world-wide, except for 3 remaining countries.

    I think you may have missed the point. Although Twitter talks about its "UK number", that is in fact the gateway to the whole world.

    The announcement should really be "Twitter shuts down sms sending worldwide - except to users in three countries where they can send SMS for free: USA, India and Canada.

    The fact they send via a UK gateway is a red herring.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Dan - expensive SMS

    And another example of us just being prepared to pay. I used to live in Cyprus where Vodafone are the infrastructure providers for CYTA Mobile the local network. It appears on your phone as CytaVoda and it costs 1 Cypriot Cent (now 1.7 Euro Cents) per text.... on pay as you go...

    Now, both of these companies must be making a profit on that or they just wouldn't do it (and the regular call costs are really cheap too - both local and abroad). So why is it so much more expensive here?

    Paris? because she knows when she is being screwed too.

  37. Hegelworm Messerchmitt

    Hidden Charges

    Bulk SMS is not as cheap as it seems. Sure, it may look like 4p per SMS, but many operators charge something called a 'termination fee' - effectively a small multiplier fee from 1 through to 2.75. So your 4p message might actually cost you up to 11 pence.

    And it's the achilles heel of all the start-ups that are trying to fill the niche. Personally, this kind of social networking doesn't really turn me on but I'm all for filling, niches.

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