Press Room

Chikka opens free text service to all major US carriers

July 18, 2009, the popular Internet gateway to texting mobile phones, now supports free SMS to any mobile phone in the United States. Erstwhile available only to select carriers, the free text service now terminates to the six major operators across the US including Nextel, Verizon, Alltel, Boost, AT&T and Sprint.

“Chikka has always been about providing great value to online and mobile communities. This development immediately benefits all online Filipinos anywhere in the world with friends and relations in the USA,” said Chito Bustamante, Chikka chief executive officer.

It is estimated that over 3.1 million Filipinos are in the US, and according to the company, some two million sign-ins every month to their flagship Chikka Text Messenger would come from that country.

“Online users in the USA make up the single largest Chikka community outside the Philippines and the new service to the US also means that they will be able to sign-in to their instant messenger (IM) with one identity that is, their phone number. What this further implies is that when they go offline, they can continue to receive and reply to instant messages on their phones via SMS,” added Bustamante.

Next to North America, countries in the Middle East notably the Saudi Arabia and UAE, make up the second largest online community for Chikka (outside the Philippines). But the company also reports strong usage from countries like Singapore.

According to Bustamante: “These countries are bastions of young Filipino expatriates and professionals. We see Chikka itself as part of the evolution of a very sophisticated Global Filipino; so sophisticated that he possesses a communications tool that marries the best of web and mobile technologies.”

With Chikka connecting to all carriers in the United States, the service is made available to over 260 million mobile subscribers. While considered to be fairly recent adopters of the mobile texting culture, US mobile users were reported to have sent 1 trillion messages in 2008, or over 3.5 billion text messages per day. This figure is triple that of the 363 billion messages they sent throughout the year 2007.

“The rapidly evolving mobile landscape in the US also makes for a very exciting market. The mobile technologies we have developed have a universal application. And we believe that our highly sophisticated, ingenious and innovative mobile culture has a lot to impart to the rest of the online and mobile world,” said Bustamante.

Chikka Text Messenger’s mobile network now includes the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Guam and the Philippines. With 55 million registering to use the service since 2001, it is probably one of the most widely used Internet and mobile-based communications medium by Filipinos worldwide. The community welcomed over 10 million new registered users in the past year.