Mobile phone users can send text and instant messages to their buddies around the world with a new service launched Wednesday by EQO Communications.
The service is free among EQO (pronounced "echo") users and carries a small charge when users send international text messages to mobile phone users not members of the EQO network.
"We developed EQO to make it easier and cheaper for people to chat using their mobile phones," said EQO CEO Bill Tam, in a statement. "It's easy to get, and accessible to everyone, so they can text and IM without having to worry about the costs."
The mobile messaging feature is a companion service to EQO's Mobile Internet Phone Service that operates with Skype, in which users can see the presence status of their buddies and can message with other Skype users.
EQO said its IM and text messaging service is available worldwide, including countries still building out advanced telecommunications infrastructures like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Russia. The messaging firm noted that its free IM and text service enables users to chat for free on MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Google, ICQ, and Jabber.
EQO said users typically build a network of friends -- also EQO users -- so they can all message each other for free. "The application," EQO stated, "automatically populates their EQO phone book with all of their contacts from their mobile phone's address book."
The company said each new user to the messaging service will receive 25 free text messages to "anyone, anywhere."