Text messaging still remains the primary means of communication among Filipinos, even if email and instant messaging have been introduced. Given that almost every Filipino owns a cellphone, there’s no doubt that text messaging has become one of the most important means of communication in the Philippines.
Text messaging started when GSM cellular phones were introduced in the Philippine market. Unlike analogue-based cellular phones, GSM phones were capable of sending SMS (Short Messaging Service) messages. GSM phones were initially offered in postpaid plans bundled with free text messaging, which allowed sending of free SMS without network restrictions. As the demand for text messaging continued to increase, telecom companies have reduced the allowable free SMS privileges per month. The introduction of prepaid plans have popularized text messaging in the country. Prepaid text messaging was adopted quickly by the tech-savvy teenagers and replaced older means of communication such as pagers and telephones.
The reason why text messaging was preferred more than making voice calls is because phone calls are expensive. A minute of voice call already costs 8 pesos while a 160-character text message costs only a peso. One text message is enough to tell a friend you are going to be late. Sending the same text message to a group of friends is more convenient than making individual phone calls to all of them. So there are still some instances where it is more convenient to text than to call.
Email is another useful means of communication which people have learned to use today. Email messages can be sent across the country and around the world for free, instantly. But sending of email is limited only to those who have access to a computer and know how to use it. Before sending an email, one has to login into a computer, connect to the internet and login to their email account. But with text messaging, all one needs to do is just type the message and press send.
IM is another tool that helped made online communication better. Most people who spend most of their time on the computer probably have IMs opened while they’re working. IMs became more popular when they were integrated into mobile phones. But the problem with using IMs on mobile phone is again, the cost. Telcos charge for every KB sent or received, that means, the longer the chat, the higher the bill. Still not cheap right? With text messaging, communicating with friends is easy without worrying about the bill. To do that, one has to have a mobile phone and buy an unlimited texting package.
Text messaging is simply the better option if you need to say something urgent, engage in a small chat, send a joke, give a short inspirational advice, or simply want to leave a reminder. This doesn’t mean that text messaging “must be the” only option. Voice calls, emails, and instant messengers are still important, each serving its own purpose. But if we are talking about the cheapest, fastest, and wireless way to communicate, it will definitely be text messaging. It’s a quick and easy way to send a message across the country, wirelessly.