ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My adventures with MMS (Part 1 of ...)

MMS Advertisement in the Kuensel
Most mobile users are familiar with SMS, the short text messages you can send from your mobile phone to other subscribers. SMS is a fat and healthy cash cow for mobile operators. The average price of sending an SMS in the world is around US$0.10, but the cost for the operator is close to nothing. In Bhutan the user pays Nu. 1 per SMS, arguably one of the cheapest rates in the world.

SMS is limited to text. You can't use it to send photos or videos. So mobile operators invented a technology called MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), which can be used to send music, videos, photos and ringtones between phones. Sending an MMS costs more than sending an SMS, so naturally the operators would be happy if we use it. MMS has been available for quite some time now with both B-Mobile and TashiCell, but has not gained popularity in the Kingdom.

Now Bhutan Telecom is trying to change all that. On Saturday BT put a hard-to-spot advertisement in the Kuensel. Apparently they are offering free MMS for the month of September. (The regular price for sending an MMS is Nu 5 from B-Mobile to B-Mobile, Nu 7 from B-Mobile to TashiCell. It costs nothing to receive an MMS). This is a good marketing idea - let people try the new technology for free. However, unlike SMS, configuring your mobile phone for MMS can be a bit tricky, so BT generously suggests sending them a message with details of your mobile phone, and they will send you back all the instructions.

Following the instructions in the ad, on Saturday afternoon I sent an SMS with my mobile phone details (make and model) to 25252 (the advertisement mentions the number 25251, but it is a typo. The number is 25252). I immediately got a response saying:
Thank you for your request. We will get back to you soon. Bmobile.
Then nothing happened. I finally got another SMS yesterday (Monday), saying
Dear Customer, you'll receive setting shortly. Use 1234 as password.
As of now, I'm still waiting for the settings.
To be continued!

P.S.: If you managed to enable MMS on your handset, kindly share your experience by adding a comment to this post.

P.S.2: The information about the new promotion is now available on the BT website.