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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I want to send a text message to a friend but am unable to use my cell phone at my present location. What can I do in this situation?

A. Assuming you have Internet access, it's quite easy to send a text message from your computer, tablet or smart phone. If you know your friend's telephone service provider, it's possible to send the message directly and it won't cost you anything! Using your email program, simply send an email to your friend using the addresses listed below. In place of the "####" in the example format, just insert your friend's complete phone number. Do not use spaces, hyphens or any other separators. If you do, you'll either have to correct the entry or it will get lost somewhere in cyberspace.

For Verizon customers, use the format:
For AT&T customers, use the format:
For T-Mobile customers, use the format:

A complete listing of formats for other service providers is available at NewTech.

All of these addresses are known as "SMS Gateways" and are available for all phone service providers. SMS refers to Small Message Service but, of course, everyone generally calls them Text Messages. One note of warning: It is more difficult to text successfully to TracFone customers because that company uses other companies' networks to deliver their service. These arrangements change over time and are different depending on the customer's location.

In the case of TracFone customers, someone whose service provider you don't know, or if you don't have access to your email program, you'll have to turn to a different method of sending out your text message. There are numerous email-to-text providers available online to handle this particular situation. An example of this type of provider is Txt2Day. You can send a text message at no charge using their service. There's even a lookup section where they will try to determine the phone service provider associated with the number to which the text is to be sent.

Texting over the Internet is not always an exact science, so if your text doesn't go through, you shouldn't be surprised. But overall the systems seem to work as advertised. Happy texting!

Published: Courier 11/3/13 - Page 3C