Free SMSes from Gmail in SA

A number of South African users have reported receiving a new pop-up message in Gmail telling them that they are able to send SMSes from Google Chat.

South Africa is not listed among the countries supported by the service, but our own testing revealed that 8ta and MTN numbers could receive messages sent from Google Chat.

Replies sent from these networks to Google Chat also appeared in Gmail’s chat interface.

Attempts to send messages to Vodacom and Cell C returned an error message from Google saying that the number “is on a mobile carrier that is not supported at this time.”

MTN and Vodacom have networks in countries such as Uganda, Ghana, and Congo that Google lists as supported. Google has offered this service from as early as 2008, but these are the first reports of it working on South African networks.

Gmail free SMS popup
Gmail free SMS popup

Google gives users 50 free SMS credits, with each message you send costing one credit.

If your SMS credit reaches zero at any point, Google says you will get one credit 24 hours later to ensure that you won’t be locked out of the system.

To “buy” more credits you just need to receive messages via SMS. For every message you receive your credit increases by 5, to a maximum of 50.

If you need more message credit, Google suggests that you send an SMS to your phone from Gmail, and then reply to that message multiple times. “Effectively, you’re buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages,” the Google support page states.

Google Chat SMS testing in South Africa
Google Chat SMS testing in South Africa

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Free SMSes from Gmail in SA