Skype SMS’ Teething Problems

By | May 5, 2006

You’ve probably all heard of Skype’s new SMS service, which is very cool. If you have a Skype-Out account, you can send SMS messages to cellphones and, if you register you cellphone number with Skype, the recipients can reply to you on your mobile phone. Great idea. Only problem: It doesn’t work.

Well, it does work, but not always. At least one cellular operator doesn’t seem to pass the messages on. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that Skype says that the message has been delivered, and charges you for it. Teething troubles, I guess, but still a nuisance, if you’re counting your Skype pennies. (This experiment has so far set me back €0,44. Money that has gone forever. Forever.) Other folk are reporting similar problems, although it doesn’t sound widespread.

Skype’s technical people say you should raise a help ticket if this happens to you. The only problem is: How do you know that it doesn’t get through? An interesting conundrum as Skype ventures into new waters. Consider: Cellular SMS supports a service which allows you to receive notification of the arrival of your message; Skype users can tell whether other Skype members are online and available. But now you can send an SMS to someone, unless the pending/delivered/failed notification feature works properly, all those presence/delivery indicators are out the window.

A weird disjuncture, given that Skype is best used for non-local calls. Skype is all about reaching beyond the tyranny of long distance communication costs. And the same is true of Skype SMS, I suspect, especially in those places where SMS is very cheap. Here in Indonesia, for example, cellular SMS to an Indonesian phone costs 250 rupiah, or 3 US cents. A Skype SMS costs 14 US cents. No one is going to send a Skype SMS to someone locally if that kind of price difference exists. So Skype SMS might best work if you want to communicate with someone who is not at their computer, or doesn’t have Skype (or doesn’t have a computer) but doesn’t live in your zone. Not a bad niche. But the problem still remains: If SMS via Skype is really going to kick in, reliability is going to be an issue. Who is going to use the service if they have no way of knowing whether their messages landed?

Something that Skype needs to fix.

5 thoughts on “Skype SMS’ Teething Problems

  1. Juha

    3 US cents in Indonesia? Seriously? In NZ, SMS costs 20 NZ cents or just under 13 US cents.

    The irony in NZ is that most people use SMS instead of calling, which is even more expensive – US$0.32 to US$0.90 per minute.

  2. Juha

    Fired up Skype 2.5 beta here, and found two SMS failure messages – except I know for a fact that those two messages went through.

  3. Juha

    Oh, better yet, I didn’t get charged for the “failed” SMS. Maybe Skype shouldn’t hurry up and fix the problem. 🙂

  4. Minas

    I signed up for skypeOut today. The call prices are a bit lower than my ISP charges me. But the sms cost is really expensive. It’s 0.079 euro, 0.09 including VAT. The cost to send an sms is 0.01 euro! it’s 9 times as expensive! Even skype calls cost less.

  5. Cliff

    here is is 5 years since you wrote the first blog about sms not being delivered and still charged for by Skype… and nothing has changed, at least not using Skype sms to Tele2 in Europe!!


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