Google India's Free SMS Channel

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Nov 16, 2008

Google Labs in India recenty launched SMS Channels, a new, free SMS messaging service for India only that may prove to be incredibly useful for citizen groups and NGOs.  The service allows anyone to set up a group of mobile subscribers to message to, or for a group to message each other many-to-many. A user can receive news alerts and blog updates via SMS, for example; or a group can group-text message to each other.

There are many commercial group messaging solutions in India where the primary means of mobile communiations is SMS. However, unlike GupShup, Zook, and MyToday, Google’s SMS channel is two-way allowing for SMS discussions and also enabling subscribers to publish to the channel.

What does this mean for citizen media and NGO groups in India?  A quick look at the many SMS groups already formed, shows that national, local news and citizen media organization have been quick to take advantage of Google's SMS Channel.  International news outfits such as Reuters, the BBC, and CNN India maintain news channels, and many Indian newspapers, TV stations, and other news outlets are represented as well. 

We have seen other interesting examples elsewhere that would be able to use SMS Channels -- Project Zumbido comes to mind, for example. The Projec, a pilot that ended due to the high costs of sending SMS, connected women with HIV/AIDS through SMS group texting for support and advice. Zumbido was hugely successful in demonstrating the huge potential to improve the quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS by simply connecting those affeced, creating community and an instant support network. 

We are looking forward to examples of NGOs using SMS Channels in India and will be watching how Google is rolling out this service in other parts of the world. 

A note on Technology

Hi, Nigel Shardlow here, I'm one of the founders of Zygo, who provided the two-way group messaging technology that powered the Zumbido project mentioned here. I thought it might be worth clarifying for your readers that the wholesale cost of SMS used to power group services varies greatly from country to country. It's particularly cheap in India, for example, which no doubt partially explains why Google has chosen to launch its services there first.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br> <b><i><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options