THE FACE | SMS are used less and less by the Portuguese

Launched in 1995 in Portugal, the text messaging service peaked in 2012, with more than 27 million text messages sent, and has steadily declined, down to 10 million in 2021, according to ANACOM data.

The world’s first SMS (Short Message Service) was sent 30 years ago, on December 3, 1992, by Neil Papworth, a telecommunications engineer with Sema Group Telecoms, UK. The message, a “Merry Christmas” wish, was sent from Neil Papworth’s computer to Vodafone’s Orbitel 901 mobile phone.

The historic moment reached a new level in December 2021, when the first 15-character SMS was auctioned as an NFT (‘Non Fungible Tokens’ or ‘Non Fungible Token’) for 107,000 euros, during of an event organized by the Aguttes house in France. .

In Portugal, the messaging service was launched in October 1995, when TMN (currently MEO) and Telecel (currently Vodafone) were in the mobile operator market, according to data transmitted to the Lusa agency by the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM).

The growth of SMS had a turning point in February 2000, when an agreement was signed between the three existing operators (after the emergence of Optimus in 1998, currently NOS) to allow users to communicate between the different networks , specifies the regulator.

The first data available from ANACOM dates precisely from 2000, when the number of text messages totaled 550 million, or about seven text messages per active user per month. The peak of SMS traffic was reached in 2012, during which time each effective user sent 180 messages per month, out of a total of 27,860,126 messages.

Also according to ANACOM data, this number is decreasing. In 2021, there were 68 SMS sent per effective user per month (-62% compared to 2012), for a total of 10,729,392.

Another turning point for SMS in Portugal is the introduction of prepaid services, which have allowed a massification of mobile service, Teresa Salema, president of the Fundação Portuguesa das Comunicações, told Lusa.

There are currently more popular alternative means of sending messages, “instant messaging”, such as via Whatsapp or Messenger applications, available for “smartphones” and which combine text with the possibility of sending images, sounds, documents or the popular GIFs.

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