SMS cuts spiralling comms costs

The Australian Telecommunications Users Group estimates a third of the phone costs enterprises incurr are from landline-to-mobile calls and accounts for the boom in business messaging SMS takeup, according to LegionOne's products and services general manager Andrew Grill.

Recent forecasts by Jupiter Research suggest that the number of text messages sent in Australia will rise from four billion in 2003 to nine billion in 2008. While there will continue to be a large number of person-to-person texting, Grill believes the business community will be a substantial driver for SMS activity.

Launching a new solution that lets businesses use their existing e-mail client (Outlook, Express or Lotus Notes) to send and receive SMS messages, Grill said the SMS drawcard is its immediacy as information is sent instantaneously.

"The beauty of products such as OutlookSMS or NotesSMS is that they combine established communication channels into an even more effective tool - both in terms of time, and ultimately, cost," he said.

"Mobile-based communications are fast becoming the new version of e-mail in terms of instant messaging solutions."

Sam Palu from bus tour company Oz Experience said the solution, developed by Australian-based software development company Red Oxygen, has replaced the spiralling cost of using mobile phones.

"Oz Experience runs more than 20 buses and has around 60 drivers on the road. While mobiles had been somewhat effective, issues such as poor reception and the spiralling cost of calls demanded that we find an alternative solution," Palu said.

"Getting information to our drivers about passenger pickups, route deviations, roster changes and messages for passengers had to be done quickly, inexpensively and reliably. By being able to send an SMS directly from our e-mail desktop, we have reduced our telecommunication costs by around $5000 a month, which is remarkable.

"A lot of our customers are independent travellers who have mobile phones, so having us communicate with them via SMS has been well received. It really has been a viable business tool for us, and not only does it saves us time and money, but our customers can instantly confirm bookings, schedule changes or cancellations and do it for the cost of an SMS."

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