Internet giant Google has announced that Ugandans will be able to send as many as 50 free SMS text messages through their Gmail accounts. The move has been welcomed by analysts and average citizens, who say the rising costs of telecommunications has hit their wallets in recent months.
“It is great, now I can get onto my email and make a few text messages without having to worry about paying extra costs. It is great,” said one Ugandan as he sat at an Internet café in Kampala.
The move is aimed at getting people to use SMS services, after recent price wars have seen the cost of texting become more expensive than calling a user via voice services.
According to Google, those with a Gmail account will receive 50 free SMS texts that “can be sent to mobile numbers.”
In Uganda, the Gmail SMS service is available to those on MTN, Orange and Uganda Telecom. It is not clear when networks like WARID, Airtel among others will get on board though Google is quick to add that; “If you are a mobile operator, and wish to integrate with the SMS feature of Gmail, please drop us a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“When you receive an SMS message from a Gmail contact, add the incoming number to your phone’s address book (this number is associated with the sender’s Gmail account, so you can use it to send Chat messages to that person in the future). Then, you can reply to the message as you would any other text message, and your reply appears as a Chat message in your friend’s Gmail account,” read a statement from Google.