Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Text messaging popular on the campaign trail

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sending short text messages to drum up support from cellphone users has become a popular campaign tool, as shown in the substantial increase in message transmission last week.

"Last Friday, the day before the nationwide legislative elections on Dec. 11, we saw the usage of short-message service (SMS) double to reach more than 4 million," said Shih Mu-piao (石木標), a spokesman for state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信).

With 8.25 million subscribers, Shih said the company records an average of 2 million to 3 million SMS transmissions per day, which means each Chunghwa Telecom user got an average of two messages per week.

Citing the service's convenience and cheaper rates, he said the popular situation of making use of consumer electronic gadgets was also seen in the March presidential elections.

According to Chunghwa Tele-com's statistics, SMS usages show a marked increase starting last Tuesday when 300,000 more short messages were sent than usual, followed the next day with 500,000 more, 1.3 million more on Thursday and a peak of 2 million on Friday.

Taiwan Cellular Corp (台灣大哥大) and Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), decided to avoid politics and declined to sell mass SMS transmission for campaign purposes.

"Unless candidates have obtained detailed information about their constituencies, sending short messages randomly to mobile- phone users would be a waste of money, even though each message costs at most NT$1 through mass transmission," said Far Eas-Tone.spokeswoman Yvonne Lan (藍綺萍).

Still, in the runup to election day in March, Taiwan Cellular saw an increase of more than 10 million short messages.

The all-time one-day record for SMS messages this year, however, was the first day of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 22, when 9 million messages were transmitted, Shih said.

The Lunar New Year's eve also saw 8.5 million messages sent by Chunghwa Telecom's subscribers.

Other days with soaring SMS usage include Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival, according to telecom operators.

For individual usage, Lan expected that MMS (multi-media messaging service), which contains pictures in addition to written messages, is likely to catch on among youngsters soon, with each MMS costing between NT$7 and NT$15 on average.

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