Many cellular providers today provide unlimited text messaging as part of their service plans. However, there are still times when someone may be limited in their texting options or simply may be away from their cell phone and need to send a text message.
Most major cellular providers offer the capability to send a text message from an email address to a cell phone. This capability, known as an SMS gateway, has been around for a long time, but many people still don’t know it exists.
What is an SMS Gateway?
Simple Message Service (SMS) message is a method of communication that allows text messages to be sent between devices. These text messages are limited to 160 characters. Cell phone users send SMS text messages to each other using the cellular providers SMS network. The SMS gateway allows messages to be transmitted in and out of the cellular provider’s SMS system. This allows emails sent to the cellular provider’s SMS gateway to be delivered as SMS text messages.
Send an SMS Text Message from an Email
To send a text message from an email, you need to know the address for the SMS gateway. Below is a list of the SMS gateways for some of the major US cellular providers. If a carrier is not in the list, search the website for that carrier and you will likely find their SMS gateway address.
Boost Mobile: email@example.com
U.S. Cellular: firstname.lastname@example.org
Virgin Mobile: email@example.com
When addressing the email, enter the recipient’s 10-digit phone number and the email domain for their cellular provider. For example, if you wanted to send an email as a text message to an AT&T customer with the phone number 555-867-5309, you would address the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t include dashes, spaces, or parentheses in the number.
What About MMS Messages?
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages are basically text messages that include pictures, video, or other multimedia content. MMS messages can be longer than the 160 character limit of an SMS message. Some cellular providers use a different gateway address for MMS messages, so be sure to check with the carrier for the correct gateway address before emailing photos to a cellular number.
Receiving a Response
When the recipient responds to your message, they can respond from their cell phone just like any other text message. Their response will be sent to the email address from which you originally sent the message. Depending on your device and email software, the response may be received as a blank email with a text file attached. You will need to open the attachment to read the text.