SMS is a simple but extremely powerful messaging protocol. Over a number of years the SMS industry and the range of applications available to companies has increased exponentially. As a result, the number of SMS providers offering corporate grade SMS solutions and platforms has also increased.Due to the explosive growth the once simple task of choosing an SMS provider has become an increasingly complex process. Entering simple key phrases into the search engines for “SMS in Bulk”, “SMS API” or even “Send SMS using Outlook” returns thousands of results from competing businesses all of whom claim to be the best in the market
The aim of this article is to make the task of finding a SMS provider manageable by offering you a set of questions to ask yourself before signing with a company.Step 1:Define exactly what a SMS provider is:An SMS service provider is a company which provides SMS messaging services, but is not in itself a mobile network operator (MNO). SMS providers are commonly called aggregators.The way in which an aggregator operates is that it will create multiple agreements with mobile network operators to send and receive data in and out of the MNO’s SMS Centre (SMSC). Send Crypto from a CSV file of the SMS up until it reaches the SMSC, once it has passed to the SMSC it is out of the aggregator’s control.Aggregators are able to offer excellent network coverage, create different pricing plans for message delivery, offer increased flexibility for clients and ensure quality levels are met.Step 2:Start the purchase process by asking the correct questions:1. Does the SMS provider have good network coverage?SMS providers should be able to provide you with a detailed listing of their network coverage, moving from local MNO’s to international destinations. If the information is not available on their websites it should be available upon request.2. How many credits does it cost to send a message?
Majority of SMS providers will quote their services and billing system on a credit basis. This functions where a 160 character message will cost one credit. If you exceed the 160 character limit the message will take 2 credits and so forth.However, it is extremely important to note that delivery of a 160 character SMS to an international destination could result in a higher charge than one credit i.e. sending a SMS from South Africa to the United Kingdom could cost 1.3 credits.3. What is the SMS provider’s network quality like?The question needs to be asked whether the SMS Providers gateway is a reliable platform. Before paying for a service you need to ensure that the messages you will be sending will deliver to your recipients without incident or delay. Network quality goes hand in hand with “Price of service” and “Service Level Agreement” points listed below.
4. Does the SMS provider support the protocol you intend to use to send SMS?There are a number of ways to send a SMS from your system to the SMS providers gateway for delivery, these include:HTTP – This is the most commonly supported protocol and is the transmitting of data over the internet.HTTPS – This is the same as HTTP, however the data is encrypted to ensure that it cannot be read by other parties on the internetSMTP – The use of email to post data to the SMS gatewayXML over HTTP/HTTPS – An XML file is created containing one or more SMS ‘s to be delivered. This is a more efficient method of delivering bulk SMS’s as a large amount of SMS’s can be included in one HTTP post.SMPP – This is a binary protocol for communicating with SMSC’s and is used for managing large volumes of SMS’s.
5. Are you able to test the SMS provider’s services before signing a contract?Before committing to a SMS provider you should be able to test their services to ensure that the system does everything that you want and expect it to do. This also creates an opportunity to rate the level of customer service and after sales support you would receive in the future.6. Does the SMS provider have fail safes/backup routes for your primary destination networks?If a SMS provider experiences a problem on their SMS gateway with a delivery route (high traffic volumes, network outage etc) they should be able to seamlessly switch your traffic to a secondary route to ensure uninterrupted delivery of your SMS’s.7. Does the SMS provider specify or guarantee a throughput speed on their SMS gateway?MS Providers should be able to provide you with an estimated throughput for SMS delivery. This will allow you to roughly calculate the time required for a bulk SMS campaign to deliver to your client’s handsets, thereby empowering you to effectively manage campaigns.