How can I deal with email to non-US mobiles? And should I?
May 16, 2006 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Can I figure out email addresses for mobile numbers outside North America, if I know the provider? Does most of the world who use SMS even send/receive email through their mobiles?

This is really a two-parter...

In the U.S., where I live, I can email a person with (say) Sprint service by emailing

The same is true for other major carriers in my part of the world. I can find carrier-to-email lists all over the place. I can't seem to find equivalent lists for other carriers popular in places far from me, though (Orange, for example).

Am I on a wild-goose chase here? Is the email-to-mobile thing just not a big international thing? I use it plenty here in San Francisco, but I know the US is pretty backwards when it comes to mobile tech.

Part Two: Do mobile users in countries where SMS is more popular pay different rates for SMS vs email to their phones? Would it be pretty normal to have SMS and no email-to-mobile at all?
posted by lizardqueen to Technology (11 answers total)
Are you just looking for a more extensive list of provider-specific email gateways, like this? Or are you asking something else? There are certainly services that will act as email gateway to any SMS number without having to know the provider, but they generally charge money for this.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:29 AM on May 16, 2006

I don't know of any carrier offering email-to-mobile service as such in Australia, although possibly we have the same thing under some other name. It's free to receive SMS though, and all the other data transmissions tend to be charged by download sizes, so that may be why it isn't big here.
posted by jacalata at 12:43 AM on May 16, 2006

I’m in Sweden. Here one can easily e-mail from a phone but not so easily to one: when I’ve sent a message from my phone to my PC, and have tried replying back, to the address ',' the messages have been bounced back. I think this is a deliberate policy on the providers’ part: SMSs and MMSs are, in most instances, individually chargeable to the sender (even though, oftentimes, packages and discounts can effectively zero-rate them); with an external e-mail, however, no such charge can be applied…

So, in answer to your questions, I believe that e-mail-to-mobile isn’t such a big thing (in Europe at least). Mobile users in Sweden do generally pay different rates for for SMS vs e-mail to/from their phones, with e-mails usually being sent as so-called MMSs (multimedia messages), which generally attract higher tariffs than SMS. Most current phones do allow e-mail, but providers usually only permit incoming e-mail from other phones. Note: although I work for a mobile telco, I’ve no special expertise on this question, and my speculation may be quite wrong.
posted by misteraitch at 12:49 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is the list I work from.
posted by glibhamdreck at 12:51 AM on May 16, 2006

Note that some of the provider info on glibhamdreck’s list is a few years out of date, and, when I tried mailing my phone using the info in it, the message was bounced back with ‘Recipient not allowed to receive email.’ Which is not to say that it won’t work for other providers/phones…
posted by misteraitch at 1:29 AM on May 16, 2006

Response by poster: Rhomboid: a more extensive list certainly helps, but so do the more general responses, like the comment by misteraitch about phones in Sweden not getting email so easily, and the one by jacalata about providers in Australia tending to charge by download size and not charging for incoming text. This is about getting a feel for the mobile landscape outside the U.S.

My goal: I'm working on a mobile site with a large number of international users, and we're extending our SMS functionality so it works well internationally. So we're wondering how valuable/feasible email-to-phone is, vs straight SMS. We can get location+carrier info from a number of sources, but email info seems much harder to come by, especially when compared with the U.S.

Email-to-phone saves *us* money, of course, and sometimes in the US it saves the customer money as well. But I just plain don't know the situation outside my North American bubble.

This is helping a lot, so far. Thank you.
posted by lizardqueen at 1:53 AM on May 16, 2006

Here in Ireland, at least with Vodafone, you can send emails from your phone. I've never heard of anyone receiving emails though. Text messaging is all the rage, however.
posted by antifuse at 3:27 AM on May 16, 2006

This is the most extensive list I've found. It's not infallible, however: as an example, Vodaphone subscribers in Europe need to sign up for the service before they can recieve emails to their phone. Orange are trialling a similar service as we speak.

This is related to the point misteraitch raised; in Europe, text messages are generally free to receive and the sender is charged per message. Since it's not possible to charge the sender of an email, the mobile recipient is charged for each email they receive on their phone. Often, you'll need to add a specific service to your mobile package in order for it to work.
posted by blag at 4:23 AM on May 16, 2006

I'm an Orange customer, and as far as I know there is no email-to-phone gateway. That's primarily because data rates are dropping and people can check their email on their phones (my phone has a POP3 client and access to Gmail). In fact, checking Gmail is now far cheaper for me than SMS.
posted by tommorris at 5:28 AM on May 16, 2006

I'm an Orange customer, and as far as I know there is no email-to-phone gateway.

I'm an Orange customer and I can assure you there is. But you have to know the e-mail address the customer chose—it's not done just based on the phone number.
posted by grouse at 6:29 AM on May 16, 2006

There is email-mobile in Australia (eg. for the Three network, you can set it up, your email address is based on your name, it doesn't have to be your phone number).. but I only know one person who uses it (and only in a half-hearted sort of way). You can also set up Yahoo etc to send emails to your phone. But I think most people just send sms.. it does a good enough job of passing on bits and pieces of info. And personally, I can't be bothered reading email on my phone.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:06 PM on May 16, 2006

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