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Twitter falls silent in the UK

Free service cuts off SMS delivery

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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 message, limited to 140 characters, and are bounced out to interested parties.

The problem, for Twitter, is that sending SMS messages is an expensive business in Europe, even when they are purchased in bulk, and if an incoming message is bounced out to 10 "friends" then Twitter has to pay to send those ten messages. But while in Europe the sender has to pay the full cost of message delivery, as getting messages is free, in the USA received messages are deducted from the tariff bundle, so Twitter can continue to offer the service there. Back in Blighty, however, it's just too expensive.

The company reckons that even with a cap of 250 messages it could cost them $1K a year per punter, and given their complete lack of revenue that's hard to maintain. Those Twittering in the USA, Canada and India will still be able to have their day interrupted by the random ramblings of others.

UK Twits are advised to use the various Twitter-compatible tools available, many of which will run on a mobile phone, or they could just disconnect for a while and see if not knowing that someone is drinking a cup of coffee, right now, really matters in the long term. ®

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