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Hotxt, a flat-fee SMS service backed by Dragon's Den entrepreneur Doug Richard, has a rival.

The Hotxt service was launched in March and was billed as being a text version of Skype, which has helped slash the cost of making phone calls. Targeted at 16 to 25 year olds, Hotxt offers punters the chance to send as many texts as they like for just £1 a week. The catch is that this inclusive price is subject to network data charges, while texts to people not on the Hotxt network cost more.

Even so, the firm reckons that while the cost of a regular text is typically somewhere between 5p and 12p a message, the average Hotxt charge is just a fraction of a penny.

Now, a Southampton-based outfit reckons it can go one better by offering a "free" text service without any subscription charges.

Like Hotxt, Tex2 uses a mobile phone's data connection to send messages to others in the Tex2 community by using software downloaded onto the handset. But unlike Hotxt, Tex2 doesn't charge £1 a week for its service, although SMS messages are subject to network data charges, typically, just a fraction of a penny.

"Our vision is to create a community that's able to communicate via their mobile for just the cost of the data," Tex2 spokesperson Phil Jones said. "That means text messages can, in future, cost fractions of a pence rather than up to 12p which the networks charge for SMS.

"Furthermore, we pledge that Tex2 will remain free. Like Skype, we're harnessing the power of the internet to let people communicate, virtually free of charge."

So if Tex2 isn't charging for its service, how in the heck does it plan to make any money? Well, it seems the priority for Tex2 at the moment is to build the community. If successful, it could always generate some revenue by charging for premium services. Oh, and the outfit says it has "very low overheads and no greedy shareholders to satisfy". ®

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