Telecommunication companies have seen a spike in the rate at which subscribers use the Short Message Service (SMS) to communicate. Over a period of one month, the number of free SMS that was sent accrued to more than a billion.
The increase in the use of SMS is partly due to the increased need to communicate virtually with people through the Covid-19 lockdown. It is however, majorly because telcos allot a certain number of free SMS to subscribers daily.
MTN does not charge for the first 10 SMS sent daily. This provides ample texting space for people to communicate without paying. This form of communication, besides calls, is a good alternative for people who do not use smartphones and social platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook.
Airtel allowed its users to send free SMS but communicated a fair usage clause. Recall that weeks ago, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo appealed to telcos to provide some sort of palliative to Nigerians in the form of free data or airtime.
However, in place of data and airtime that was requested, the telcos had announced that free SMS was the way forward. Nigerians, however, expressed their displeasure at the offer of free SMS and reiterated their preference for free or subsidized data packages instead.
The current report on the usage of SMS since it became free shows that mobile subscribers found increased use for it, despite their preference for data and airtime. From the report, at #4 per SMS, the cost of free SMS amounts to #4 billion for MTN.
30% of MTN subscribers and 25% of Airtel subscribers who are not data subscribers form a huge part of the Nigerians being impacted more harshly by the COVID-19. This percentage of people informed the choice of free SMS, and the spike in adoption shows that it indeed comes in handy.
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