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Summary:

[qi:025] Citing changes to its billing and costs that are doubling every month, Twitter announced that it will no longer support outbound SMS to Canadians. Twitter’s searching for a business model (and a Business Product Manager to help out), and in the meantime it has to curtail […]

[qi:025] Citing changes to its billing and costs that are doubling every month, Twitter announced that it will no longer support outbound SMS to Canadians. Twitter’s searching for a business model (and a Business Product Manager to help out), and in the meantime it has to curtail costs — but it doesn’t help that Canadian carriers are trying to charge huge fees for text messaging, resulting in consumer lawsuits. Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice called the decision by Bell and Telus a “poorly thought out decision,” back in July, but reneged in August following meetings with the carriers, saying, “I would encourage consumers dissatisfied with existing plans to seek alternatives. The telecommunications market in Canada is dynamic — choice is available.”

Given today’s news, it would seem that alternatives aren’t available, at least for Twitter, and probably not for Canadians in general.

The statement from Twitter is below.

Unexpected changes in our billing have forced us into a difficult situation with our Canadian SMS service. We can’t afford to support this service given our current arrangement with our providers (where costs have been doubling for the past several months.) As a result, effective today we are no longer delivering outbound SMS over our Canadian shortcode (21212). The ability to update Twitter over SMS will still be supported over 21212. But we know that this is only part of the experience and we want to make Twitter work in the way folks want … regardless of where they live. There is a realistic, scalable SMS solution for Canada (and the rest of the world.) We’re working on that and will post more details on the Twitter blog as we make progress.

  1. I assumed that the headline meant that people were generally using SMS less, and using twitter for their messaging needs instead. If you’ve got a generous data allowance, it’s not such an unlikely prospect.

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  2. It is highway robbery. Workaround: subscribe to the e-mail to SMS gateway services ($5 per mo for Rogers I think) and have inbound tweets delivered to that address (5141231234@pcs.rogers.com). I’m sure Bell and Telus have a similar service.

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  3. [...] blog as news becomes available. Hope this doesn’t slowdown Twitter adoption rates in Canada. Gigaom has the full story and Twitter statement here. addthis_url = [...]

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  4. I don’t blame Twitter for this. When you have a free service, your incremental cost of delivering it should be close to zero. This is not the case with SMS delivery. I lived this exact issue when I was CFO at Mobivox and always pushed to limit what we gave away. Mobivox finally faced reality and got rid of free calling. You cannot sustain it when you have to pay carriers for every minute of use. Same deal for Twitter with SMS.

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  5. This isn’t news. Twitter was blocking SMS tweets for probably a year now. When I lived in Canada I think I actually received 3-4 sms tweets tops. It was very frustrating.

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  6. [...] more at GigaOm [...]

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  7. Twitter is incredibly stupid. Here’s an idea, guys – try charging for SMS, and maybe you’ll actually make some money!

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  8. [...] has just announced that they are killing outbound SMS messaging in Canada due to exorbitant and constant rate hikes [...]

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  9. [...] has just announced that they are killing outbound SMS messaging in Canada due to exorbitant and constant rate hikes [...]

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  10. @Sean @Mark I agree. Maybe they’re canceling the costly services to finally charge for them. Hard to make a business model when everything is free.
    @PaulJ They may have been rate-limiting, and have had availability issues, but they haven’t been blocking direct messages in or out yet. Now, outbound DMs are blocked too.

    One of the sad things here is that Americans can switch to a North American plan and get fixed-rate data and voice, so they don’t need SMS — they can just use data. But for a Canadian using Rogers, Fido, Telus or Bell, that’s not the case. My voice bill alone when I’m roaming in the US is often over $800 a month, and I don’t bother using data at all; it’s simply too expensive.

    The imbalance between US and Canadian telecom rates is a restraint of trade for us Cannucks, and the erosion of services like Twitter SMS is just another symptom of misguided policies.

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