Twitter Close To Finalising UK SMS Deal With O2

imageAfter an absence of seven months, Twitter is just a few weeks away from announcing the restoration of inbound SMS to UK users. paidContent:UK understands Twitter has been working on a deal with O2, whose Manx Telecom subsidiary had originally routed its UK texts – and the plan could be up and running in three or four weeks.

It’s understood the O2 deal would be similar to that Twitter announced last week with Bell Mobility which restored SMS to Canada. However, that arrangement lets only Bell customers get Twitter texts and was originally slated to be a premium service before a U-turn – if replicated, O2 could effectively get a UK exclusive on Twitter SMS, leaving other carriers to strike their own deals. Or O2 could get to wholesale texts to rival operators for a profit. Either way, it shows how fast-growing Twitter may become seen as a value-add for networks.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone canned UK inbound SMS in August, warning excessive termination fees could cost the service $1,000 per user per year. The messages were routed through the Isle Of Man, where, despite voice calls being billed the same rates as on the UK mainland, SMS rates charged to services by Isle telcos are unregulated.

The breakthrough came in recent weeks after the appointment of Kevin Thau as Twitter’s mobile business development VP in January. Thau has been meeting carriers in Europe and the move would come at just the right time, with Twitter actually beginning to show signs of mainstream adoption. Visits to the website have tripled so far this year, Hitwise says.