SMS Text Messaging Turns 20

I can’t believe it. SMS text messaging is 20 years old. Although, it has been around for 20 years, a few people have not use it, or use it sparingly. A few have become billionaires because of SMS, wireless, and telecommunications in general. If you’re curious what the first text message ever was? Here’s an excerpt from CNN’s report.

The first-ever text message was sent December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth, to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis, who received the message on his husky Orbitel 901 cell phone. It read simply, “Happy Christmas.”

Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research.

SMS messaging is expected to be a $150 billion-a-year industry in 2013, with carriers charging set monthly fees for unlimited texting, or as much as 20 cents per text. The actual cost to carriers for sending a text message is about 0.03 cents.

Vonage Legal Troubles

I’m one of the 2.2 million customers of Vonage, the telecommunications company that offers telephone services through the internet. Verizon has sued Vonage for infringing over five of its patents. A jury earlier this year awarded Verizon $58 million in damages and ordered Vonage to stop using its technology. Vonage is currently working on an alternative, but raises concerns if it’s able to meet the deadline.

Majority of the company’s $607.4 million in revenue last year came from charging customers with monthly subscription fees of about $25. How’s the market responding? Not good. Vonage has lost more than $720 million since going public, $338.6 million from last year alone. The company’s stock priced at $17 in the IPO last May has plummeted down to more than 80 percent at the close yesterday at $3.31.

I hope the best for Vonage since I like their service. The price is perfect at $25 per month. What’s the alternative? Well, Comcast offers $39 for existing Comcast cable and high speed internet users. It’s $55 per month if you just want Digital Voice service alone. Comcast does offer a promo for $33 dollars each for the three services of television cable, high speed internet and telephone service for a grand total of about $99 per month. Then, there’s always AT&T’s landline.