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Texting is also used to communicate very brief messages, such as informing someone that you will be late or reminding a friend or colleague about a meeting.
As with e-mail, informality and brevity have become an accepted part of text messaging.
In countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, over 85% of the population use SMS.
The European average is about 80%, and North America is rapidly catching up with over 60% active users of SMS by end of 2008 Text messaging is most often used between private mobile phone users, as a substitute for voice calls in situations where voice communication is impossible or undesirable (e.g., during a school class or a work meeting).
Finnish Radiolinja became the first network to offer a commercial person-to-person SMS text messaging service in 1994.
When Radiolinja's domestic competitor, Telecom Finland (now part of Telia Sonera) also launched SMS text messaging in 1995 and the two networks offered cross-network SMS functionality, Finland became the first nation where SMS text messaging was offered on a competitive as well as on a commercial basis.
The electrical telegraph systems, developed in the early 19th century, used analog electrical signals to sent text messages.
In the late 19th century, the wireless telegraphy was developed using radio waves.
text messaging was the most widely used mobile data service, with 74% of all mobile phone users worldwide, or 2.4 billion out of 3.3 billion phone subscribers, at the end of 2007 being active users of the Short Message Service.
The GSM in the US had to use a frequency allocated for private communication services (PCS) – what the ITU frequency régime had blocked for DECT – Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications – 1000-feet range picocell, but survived.
American Personal Communications (APC), the first GSM carrier in America, provided the first text-messaging service in the United States.
It may simply be referred to as a "text" in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, an "SMS" in most of mainland Europe, or an "MMS" or "SMS" in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The sender of a text message is commonly referred to as a "texter".