You can only use Messages with other iOS users. You cannot text with other cell phones or smart phones. And you can only contact somebody via messages if they have already set up messages on their own device. You can't message with them just because they are in your contacts if they have not registered to use messages on their devices.
Using FaceTime http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4319
Troubleshooting FaceTime http://support.apple.com/kb/TS3367
The Complete Guide to FaceTime + iMessage: Setup, Use, and Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting FaceTime and iMessage activation
iOS: FaceTime is 'Unable to verify email because it is in use'
Using FaceTime and iMessage behind a firewall
iOS: About Messages
Set up iMessage
iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion: Link your phone number and Apple ID for use with FaceTime and iMessage
How to Set Up & Use iMessage on iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch with iOS
Troubleshooting iMessage Issues: Some Useful Tips You Should Try
Setting Up Multiple iOS Devices for iMessage and Facetime
FaceTime and iMessage not accepting Apple ID password
FaceTime, Game Center, Messages: Troubleshooting sign in issues
Unable to use FaceTime and iMessage with my apple ID
How to Block Someone on FaceTime
My Facetime Doesn't Ring
To send messages to non-Apple devices, check out the TextFree app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/text-free-textfree-sms-real/id399355755?mt=8
How to Send SMS from iPad
You can check the status of the FaceTime/iMessage servers at this link.