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Why are people still using SMS in 2015?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Short Message Service (SMS), more colloquially known as ‘text,’ is a protocol used for sending short messages over mobile networks. The first SMS was sent in 1992; By 2010, SMS was the most widely used data application, adopted by 80 percent of mobile subscribers.

Then, came the rise of the smartphone.

Smartphones paved the way for consumers to communicate through a variety of outlets – from email and instant messaging to over-the-top content messaging apps.

However, despite the growth in other communication channels, SMS is still widely in use and remains one of the primary channels of communication. Why? Here are four crucial reasons.

SMS is the most effective way to reach users, with a 90 percent read rate in minutes

When it comes to timeliness of delivery, SMS maintains the highest engagement rate in comparison to emails and OTT apps.

SMS is available as long as you have a mobile phone and service plan. This makes its global reach soar as there are no pre-existing connections required, such as accepting friend requests or requiring two parties to download the same app.

The lower barriers to communication let users receive messages quickly, making it ideal for sending short, time-sensitive content.

SMS is a one- size- fits- all solution which makes anybody (with a mobile number) reachable

The technology for sending and receiving SMS is not reliant on high speed internet, essentially making anyone in modern society reachable.


Over-the-top messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat function only while connected to the Web. Different apps also have require different hardware and software compatibilities, weeding out users with feature phones or smartphones that the OTT app doesn’t support.

For instance, not all OTT messaging apps are available on Firefox OS, Windows, Blackberry or legacy versions of iOS and Android.

In contrast, a user does not need to be connected to the Web or have membership to the same app to receive an SMS.

Disruptions in the A2P sector make a global telecom network more accessible

SMS can be classified into person-to-person (P2P) SMS, where two mobile subscribers exchange messages.

Application-to-person (A2P) SMS, on the other hand, allows an app to deliver messages to a mobile subscriber. Typical use cases for A2P SMS include payment confirmations, appointment reminders, account updates from banks, mobile ticketing, flight updates, etc.

The issue with traditional A2P SMS is that the process is clunky and can be expensive for companies to deploy. Traditional methods require a company to liaise with a variety of middlemen – such as SMS aggregators, gateway providers, marketers and resellers – before gaining access to the SMS inventory of the various network operators.

Today, a new breed of cloud communication platforms utilizes easily-deployable technologies to increase quality of message deliverability. They also combine a pay-per-use cost model of cloud services with simple telephony Application Program Interface (API) tools to make it easy for developers to integrate into their applications while maintaining low operational cost.

In effect, this bypasses the need for the middlemen. In accessing the global telecom network directly, companies gain faster delivery times and better reliability of service.

This makes A2P SMS accessible to more companies – especially startups – and application developers who were previously limited by lack of human and financial resources required by the traditional route.

Growth of two factor authentication and security via SMS



With the proliferation of mobile devices, more personal data are transferred over the Web than ever before. To add a layer of security, two-factor authentication has become the go-to method for companies to protect its users.

Using SMS as an authentication method has been rising in popularity, as a user almost always has a mobile device on them at any given time. The cost of sending an SMS is also very low, while its ease over voice call for 2FA makes SMS more ideal for today’s fast-paced society.

Companies using SMS as a step in two-factor authentication (if activated) include Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, PayPal and LinkedIn.

Today, SMS may be viewed as antiquated technology – but the reality is it that SMS plays a key role in connecting most modern technologies. From its high user engagement rate and 2FA benefits, to its disruption in the A2P sector, we won’t see SMS disappear anytime soon.

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I sometimes use SMS still, because I don't have 3G.

It would also be an effective way to reach people.


I don't use any 2step verifications via SMS. I use the app for Google and email for Steam and some more stuff via email

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Antiquated tech? The only thing that is antiquated about it are the price points. Even in the 90's operators needed to talk in thousands of messages to be able to assign any cost to the service, making 97% ISP margin nothing in comparison.


We may consider it antiquated in the situation where we have unlimited mobile data with coverage similar to GSM and then some standard messaging app available on all of the phones.

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Simple, because 4G still isn't everywhere, hell, even mobile network at all is missing in some places I pass through yearly, and it costs more to keep my phone connected to one 24/7 than the total amount of SMS I send.

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Its reliable and works without internet. Free unlimited incoming messages and even unlimited text sending is becoming a standard more quickly than cheap, reliable internet service.


Heck you can use SMS on those cheap old Nokias without internet subscription. 


Its an inherent part of mobile phone functionality long before they got internet, and has been long established as standard utility.

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Some people use Text as Data for some people is expensive and isn't really a necessity but a luxury. Even tho theres wifi almost everywhere... If you're in the city atleast.

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To respond to title:


As someone who travels globally, SMS is often a much more efficient way of communicating for me. Can't get a data signal everywhere I go and roaming charges can get pretty ridiculous. So depending on what's available I switch between Whatsapp and SMS.

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I used to use Viber but it has been broken recently and converting the 2 people I know who use it to anything but would be near impossible. Everyone has the ability to send and receive SMS. SMS is efficient and with Pushbullet (alternatives are available), it is usable cross platform.

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SMS is still the best available method to reach ALL people using cellphones, no matter how old they are.

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SMS is the very functional and well every phone has it. And it's just flat out easier to do.


3rd party apps require the same person to have it, have an account and actively use it.


I'd rather use the one that everyone already has and doesn't require me to have to get something from someone to send a message to besides a phone number. Much easier.

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Why do I still use sms? Because its 100% free no matter where in the world I send them and not all of my buddies have any one messenger app

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Because everyone can read it and it's free for a few numbers for me. That said I do tend to use hangouts since I can use it on PC too or Whatsapp/fbmessenger since they're popular with friends.

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I'd rather pay for text messages than use anything Zuckerberg is involved in.


I don't really play many games for gameplay anymore honestly. I play most games just for the graphics.


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No data plan on my phone so SMS it is. I use GroupMe so I can group text anyway...


Pretty much the only solution I've found that works & sync on SMS and computer. So I can text my girlfriend, get on the computer and continue the conversation there. It's like what Hangout should be (iMessage does this right ? But I think if it's using iMessage instead of SMS and you don't have an internet connection, it will wait till you do instead of relying on SMS)


Anyway, why is this in the news section !?

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Much copy-pasta, such wow.

SMS is easy to use and im more likely to have mobile network signal than having 2G/3G signal....

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The fact that as long as I can get any sort of signal, I can send a text. I don't need a decent 3G or wifi connection.

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I use it for my main line of communication cuz I don't really talk for all that long with people. Otherwise I call or see the person in person. Also use it for 2 step authentication.

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Pretty simply:


The Pros:

  • People actually read and respond to texts faster (in my anecdotal evidence) than email or IM when they are on their phone.
  • Literally everyone i know with a phone can send and receive texts, regardless of company/plan/phoneOS
  • No messing with different protocols (Skype v MSN v Facebook v Hangouts v IRC v ICQ v all the other bullshit that i use)
  • Never need to worry about trying to get a signal for SMS, on the rare cases i lose it for a little while it auto sends/receives once i reconnect.
  • No need to log into any accounts or any bullshit like that.
  • Doesnt use data.

The Cons:

  • Limited text length (Though modern phones get around this with combining messages)
  • MMS support on some carriers is wonky (Not directly related to SMS but it bares mentioning)


Its kinda hard for it to NOT be a thing still. Find me something else that does the same thing. (Pagers maybe? But i haven't seen one in 15 years)


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In response to the title: Because it works.

This is the /wrap imo.

It has very low failure rate, it's fast, and pretty straight forward (the UX side of things I mean), and it works with any signal and any device. Like you said: it works.

Just because it's old tech, doesn't mean it's obsolete.

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