Google Inc. has started offering a service that allows users to send text messages through Gmail chat and Google Talk (GTalk) in India to a mobile phone.
The service that was first tested in 2008 has been available in many countries for some time now.
With this feature a Gmail user can send text messages to a person’s mobile phone for free.
However, standard mobile operator charges will apply while replying from a mobile phone to Gmail.
In India, the company has tied up with Aircel, Idea, Loop Mobile, MTS, Reliance, Tata DoCoMo, Tata Indicom and Vodafone in a few cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, according to the company’s website. Bharti Airtel Ltd and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd are absent from the list.
A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment on the introduction of the service.
There are several websites that allow users to send SMSes to mobile phones through the computer, according to experts.
Romal Shetty, executive director of KPMG, said “only voice calls from a mobile to a mobile through Internet is not permitted currently”.
However, he said that the law doesn’t clearly implicitly say if this is allowed or not.
An official at the telecom regulator said that sending texts from a computer is allowed under the value-added services ruling and Google and Twitter have been doing it for some time.
Google will give an user an initial SMS credit of 50 messages. Every time the user receives a text message in chat, the credit increases by five, up to a maximum of 50.
“In case the SMS credit goes down to zero, it will increase automatically to one after 24 hours according to the company’s website.
“Keep in mind that if you’d like a higher message credit, you can always send an SMS to your own phone, and then reply to that message multiple times. Every time you send a reply message, your SMS credit is increased by five. Effectively, you’re buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages,” Google says in its explanatory post.