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    March 14, 2012

    Gmail users in South Africa can now SMS for free

    Ed update: The feature is still rolling out, so if it does not give you a notification, just be patient!

    Google has recently enabled South African users to use their free SMS service that allows Gmail users to send free SMS messages within Gmail chat to supported networks both locally and internationally. While sending an sms from chat is free, replying via SMS from a phone to Gmail is charged at regular SMS rates.

    At the moment, MTN and 8ta are the only supported service providers.

    This is how it works: Each user is given 50 credits, 1 for each message sent, that is provided upon activating the service. With every reply received in Chat, the user’s credit increases by five, up to a maximum of 50.

    Google explains that “œIf your SMS credit goes down to zero at any point, it will increase back up to one 24 hours later. So, you won’t ever be locked out of the system.“ Extra credit can be “œbought“ simply by sending messages from Gmail to one’s own phone and replying to that message via SMS multiple times.

    8ta senior manager, Amith Maharaj explained that the reason it decided to support the service is to bring relevant and convenient services to its customers.  Maharaj also commented  that 8ta has a direct agreement with Google, and that 8ta customers can look forward to continued support while on the 8ta network as well as roaming on MTN.

    With regard to Cell C and Vodacom’s position on the possibility of bringing the service to their customers in South Africa, Vodacom is looking into providing the service for South Africa and interestingly enough is currently supporting the service in other African countries including Tanzania, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Cell C, has a similar response with spokesperson Karin Fourie saying that the company is in discussions with Google and is currently testing the feasibility of the service.

    Sources: My Broadband, ITWeb

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    • Clint

      Tried it already. Its a little slow when receiving the SMS on the phone at times. Sometimes the messages are not sent either. Granted, its still in a lab phase.

    • Alastair

      Neat trick – Google get verified names and cell-phone numbers (you can’t use the service without entering the name of the person to whom you’re sending the SMS). Brace yourself for a deluge of spam SMSs

    • Kieter

      Very good news. Thank you Google and MTN. And Kelly.

    • Great news, thanks and be blessed

    • Great news, be blessed

    • Douglas Simoes

      since i have installed whats app my sms usage has dropped to almost zero. i have sent +/- 3000 messages from whats app as well as photos etc and this has cost me in +/- 6 – 7mb of data over a period of a year. most mobile providers need a kick up the ass with regard to their inflated charges when it comes to SMS.

      • JustJimBean

        You are absolutely right, Douglas. It costs them NOT ONE CENT to send and receive text (SMS) messages. Yet they make millions off it.

        Text messages were originally invented so that technicians monitoring the new digital cell sites could receive immediate information on the systems.

    • Kelly Levinsohn

      @Kieter – You’re welcome. Happy to bring you the news you want.

    • Hopefully the testing on Vodacom and Cell C is done quickly. This is a really nice feature. Its so easy! And it works a charm!

    • anantah

      Great news, thanks alot

    • Stevin Helin


      Great and info! Thanks for the post and share too.

      Have you seen this website yet?


      You can send an SMS to just about anyone in the World.

      Completely FREE and NO registration or signup.

      Thanks again!

    • john

      how can i use it

    • john

      how can i use the sms

    • Bruce Mabizela

      How do I use this?