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Like e-mail and voice mail, and unlike calls (in which the caller hopes to speak directly with the recipient), texting does not require the caller and recipient to both be free at the same moment; this permits communication even between busy individuals.

In countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, over 85% of the population use SMS.The European average is about 80%, and North America is rapidly catching up with over 60% active users of SMS by end of 2008 Text messaging is most often used between private mobile phone users, as a substitute for voice calls in situations where voice communication is impossible or undesirable (e.g., during a school class or a work meeting).The GSM in the US had to use a frequency allocated for private communication services (PCS) – what the ITU frequency régime had blocked for DECT – Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications – 1000-feet range picocell, but survived.American Personal Communications (APC), the first GSM carrier in America, provided the first text-messaging service in the United States.The term originally referred to messages sent using the Short Message Service (SMS).

It has grown beyond alphanumeric text to include multimedia messages (known as MMS) containing digital images, videos, and sound content, as well as ideograms known as emoji (happy faces ,sad faces ,and other icons).As of 2017, text messages are used by youth and adults for personal, family and social purposes and in business.Governmental and non-governmental organizations use text messaging for communication between colleagues.Sprint Telecommunications Venture, a partnership of Sprint Corp. made the initial phone-call to launch the network, calling Mayor Kurt Schmoke in Baltimore.and three large cable-TV companies, owned 49 percent of APC. One factor in the slow take-up of SMS was that operators were slow to set up charging systems, especially for prepaid subscribers, and to eliminate billing fraud, which was possible by changing SMSC settings on individual handsets to use the SMSCs of other operators.In 1933 RCA Communications, New York introduced the first "telex" service.