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UK operator Orange has signed a deal to push out tweets for free, though sending them will cost as usual.

The deal means that Twitter users can receive alerts from their followed-themes by SMS message, and even upload pictures to their own feed via MMS (at 30p a pop) which Orange will host, automatically sending out a link to followers.

The arrangement harks back to Twitter's original architecture, with tweets being bounced out to followers as text messages, but in Europe Twitter had to foot the bill for sending out the alerts and thus had to pull the service. Even the money-pit that is Twitter couldn't shoulder that cost for long.

Now Orange customers can get back to Twitter's roots and interact via SMS, though submitting updates will be charged for at the normal SMS rate (or, more likely, deducted from the bundle), that update can be bounced out to millions at no additional cost.

Many Twitter fans will already have moved onto on-device clients, but for those who use a basic handset and can't live without the latest updates on what Stephen Fry is having for lunch then the service is ideal.

For Orange this is all about identity aggregation. Orange wants its customers to aggregate their online identities through the Social Life section of Orange World, making it much harder for them to switch networks: an ambition well worth taking a hit on a few text messages to achieve. ®

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