Tweeting via SMS in the world’s texting capital

Tweeting via text messaging is already possible in the Philippines for some time now. It is a big help for those who are not subscribed to expensive data plans but need the flexibility and convenience of being able to tweet from practically anywhere there is a cellphone signal.

Mainstream and citizen journalists, for one, have and could avail of services offering Twitter via SMS to save cellphone battery strength.  Better to use up battery juice for taking photos and sending them online. Ditto for most other people, including those in the BPO industry, partygoers, policemen, activists and other folk who are out at unholy hours and may just need a convenient way to tweet hazards or discoveries they find along the way.

Some friends tweet via SMS the names and plate numbers of taxi cabs on their way home, as a security precaution.

A lesson from the destruction wrought by supertyphoon Ondoy is that even if there is electric power in some homes, offices and establishments, we can’t always depend on our internet-capable phones to tweet because we must save on batteries and try to keep them on for the most important things: emergency calls and text from relatives and friends. 

There are at least three services which you could use to tweet via SMS in the Philippines.

The most popular among them is the Cebu-based, non-commercial mobile Twitter service called @tweetitow.  

@tweetitow uses OAuth to link your cellphone number to your Twitter account so your password is safe. It also allows you to use its service to post across several platforms via Posterous. The instructions are pretty much easy to follow and within several minutes, you’d be posting happily from your cellphone.

If you’re subscribed to any of the unlimited SMS services of the three telcos, you are in luck because @tweetitow gives four gateway numbers to use in order to tweet from your cellphone – or at least one regular 11-digit access number for every telco. If you aren’t subscribed to unlimited SMS services, each tweet would cost you P1.00 per text message. 

To join @tweetitow’s fans and thankful users, better read the FAQs.

A similar service is GladlyCast whose coverage area spans Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. It has one gateway number each (regular numbers, not special access code) for each of the covered country. It allows you to post to both Twitter and Plurk!

Two of the telcos in the Philippines have also rolled out SMS-to-Twitter services: Globe Mobile Tweet and Sun Alertz. Unlike @tweetitow and GladlyCast, Twitter messages are sent to special four-digit access codes. The cost? P1.00 per tweet. Unlimited packages for available for as low as P15.00/day for Sun and P20.00/day for Globe.

Since many already avail of unlimited SMS services or have at least two phones, perhaps the best option is to subscribe to the @tweetitow service. No need to subscribe to another Twitter-only package, and better, @tweetitow just works! (For example, if you’re a Sun prepaid subscriber who regularly loads Text-Unlimited 150 for a month’s unlimited texting, best to register to @tweetitow and be able to tweet via SMS to a regular 11-digit Sun number – as if you’re just texting a friend. No special codes to text to.)

Happy tweeting!