Located at www.mntsms.com, this is a fast and painless way to send SMS messages to a mobile phone. It works unless the target network has opted out, as South Africa's Vodacom network has.

I started to use this service when a friend told me about it (they have grown solely by viral marketing).

I though that it was associated with my mobile service provider, MTN. MTN is the other of the two cellphone networks in South Africa.

MTNSMS is maintained by Airborn, which in fact was part of MTN, but is now directly owned by MTN's parent company, and Airborn provides general telecoms services, and is not limited to the MTN network.

The CEO of Airborn in March 2001 is Ross Macdonald There's really not much to say about MTNSMS itself except that it's yellow, abreviated, simple, free from banner ads, straightforward and quite fun to use.

Airborn has stated that the site is a proof of concept. Once they've proved that it works, lets hope they don't screw it up by overcomplicating it or trying to milk it for every cent.

In 2001, MNT opened their official online subscriber services site called MTNIce (www.mtnIce.co.za). It offered ringtones, SMS and more. However, the registration process required more than just my phone number. They wanted so many personal details just to get onto the site that it was clear that I was going to be marketed at. They should already have my name & basic info from my phone account anyway.

I filled it in as Homer J Simpson, age 43, married with 3 children, etc. Clearly no human checking or cross-reference with existing data at work here, as I got on without problems.

I found the site to be slow, overcomplex and unreliable compared to what I was used to, so I went back to mtnsms.

Sources: Personal experience and interview with Ross Macdonald on www.itweb.co.za on 14 March 2001

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