CWTA: Text messaging on the rise

Canadians sent more than 20 million mobile-to-mobile text messages during the month of November alone, according to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA).

The Ottawa-based advocacy group announced Thursday that since the April 2002 rollout of inter-carrier text messaging network by Canada’s four major wireless carriers – Bell Mobility, Microcell Telecommunications (Fido), Rogers AT&T Wireless and TELUS Mobility – the volume of short message service (SMS) messages jumped 98 per cent.

SMS wireless service enables transmission of alphanumeric messages between mobile subscribers and external systems such as electronic mail, paging, and voice-mail systems. Inter-carrier text messaging has boosted usage by allowing wireless phone users to send and receive text messages regardless of the wireless service provider, CWTA said.

In addition, CWTA said enterprise workers are increasingly using text messaging to exchange information during meetings or when making a voice call is inappropriate due to time zones or other reasons.

Mark Quigley, a research director for Ottawa’s Yankee Group Canada, noted inter-carrier mobile text messaging has doubly served to increase awareness and usage, which should have a long-term positive impact on average revenue per subscriber figures.

“There is little doubt that SMS interoperability is playing a pivotal role in determining the success of mobile messaging in Canada,” Quigley said.

But it’s currently the consumer market, not the enterprise space, that’s driving the technology – SMS has typically thrived in the consumer realm and a younger demographic, Quigley added.

Widespread adoption in the enterprise space is further down the road, Quigley said, adding that in the Canadian market, there are rumblings regarding SMS and its possible use within the enterprise channel.

“On the enterprise side, if you look at existing wireless messaging and wireless data it’s been typically around (PDAs and handhelds), which tends to fall within a small demographic in most companies,” Quigley said.

“But if you look at the penetration of cell phones it’s much higher,” he added. “So if you’re able to extend some of those applications using SMS out over SMS-ready handsets – it means you automatically extend the audience that can receive those messages quickly and more cost-effectively.”