UK Text Messaging to US E-Mail?
November 4, 2007 10:53 PM   Subscribe

Do UK wireless phone providers generally permit text messaging to an e-mail address, rather than another wireless phone?

I'm in the US, and my brother and my friend have both relocated to the UK. Both have taken to sending me text messages; unfortunately, international messages are more than three times as costly for me (both to send and receive) as it is for them. And worse, cell reception is very spotty in my house, so when I'm home (as I most often am) a text message might not come through for an hour or two after its sent, just depending on when my phone decides to pick up a signal. E-mail is a much more reliable way to reach me quickly. For me, text-to-email is as simple as putting an e-mail address rather than phone number in the "to" field. Is this functionality common amongst UK carriers?

Barring that, is there any service like K7 that will provide a phone number that can receive text messages and deliver them to my e-mail, that I can use as a go-between service?

(Why am I asking here rather than asking my brother or my friend? Because they're both allergic to RTFM and only understand the very basics of how their very fancy "foreign" phones work. If I can go to them and say "do this" they'll do it, but I don't want to bother if it'll "break" something, as far as they're concerned.)
posted by Dreama to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes it is. I was sending text-to-emails back in 1999 - I was surprised to find a few years ago that a disposable phone even came with X.400 support built-in. You need to find out what carrier they are using.
posted by meehawl at 10:58 PM on November 4, 2007

No it's not. I've never been able to do it on any of my phones, though they've all had email clients built in for the last few years. Maybe that's why it doesn't work? You're supposed to send an email via email?
posted by sdevans at 12:41 AM on November 5, 2007

Not working for me on Vodafone with a Nokia E70. Phone complains "invalid contact details". That said, text to mail is supported on many providers and phones but it's not generally accessed via the regular texting interface, but with a different menu option.
posted by wackybrit at 1:05 AM on November 5, 2007

Our technology SUCKS when it comes to communicating with the rest of the world. There are many countries that my phone can't ever receive texts from. It's like we just don't even care about global communication. Especially when you compare our services to what people in other countries have.

I use skype to send texts a lot, it's cheaper than my phone to certain countries and I can send to anywhere from it. To the UK it's only about a penny cheaper though. And you can't receive texts through skype, so you still get double-charged and have to receive calls from your phone (in other countries they usually just get charged for outgoing texts).

Sorry I don't have any real answers, but I feel your pain. And I'll be checking this thread to see if there are any new solutions I haven't heard of...
posted by miss lynnster at 1:24 AM on November 5, 2007

On my Nokia N73 on the UK T-Mobile network, I can theoretically send an email instead of a text message. But I've never actually bothered trying it out - I know it needs extra setup...

What phone/network is your brother/friend running? THat'll form a huge part of the question, unless you're hoping to get them to change their phone.

Of course, you could get them a UK based iPhone if you're feeling incredibly generous...
posted by electriccynic at 1:33 AM on November 5, 2007

I use my Nokia N95 to send short text style emails all the time, longer ones require me to dig out the bluetooth keyboard.

Configuration is as simple as setting up any email client.
posted by hardcode at 1:58 AM on November 5, 2007

Email will cost them data rates, whereas texts are likely to be bundled.

Why not set up a Twitter account? They can text the UK twitter number, you can text the US twitter number, and the messages will go to everyone, or direct to you if they type d Dreama first.
posted by bonaldi at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2007

You can't, as mentioned, send text (SMS) messages to email addresses. You can, however, send multimedia messages (MMS), aka picture messages, to email addresses. They don't actually have to contain a picture, of course, you just add some text to a blank MMS message, enter an email as the destination, and it's received as an email. I'm on Flext with T-Mobile (a pretty standard monthly plan), and when I do it the messagee even gets a chance to send a free reply via email to my phone (there's a 24(?) hour time limit and they can only reply once though). It's pretty cool, although don't use it often as I can access Gmail on my phone instead. But it's handy for taking photos and emailing them straight from my phone.

So yes, it can be done with MMS instead of SMS, which will cost more (probably, depending on what plan you use) but work how you want.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:09 PM on November 5, 2007

Note: I should probably specify that I've only ever done the MMS-to-email with T-Mobile, so I can't say for certain that it's a standard feature on all UK mobile plans.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:10 PM on November 5, 2007

You can't, as mentioned, send text (SMS) messages to email addresses.

That's not entirely true. You can use an SMS<>email gateway. These have been around since the early 90s (I used a nifty South African gateway for the longest time). However, the free ones tend to disappear quickly because of the demand. Pay ones last longer.
posted by meehawl at 5:38 PM on November 5, 2007

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