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What can you expect in the future of SMS?

25 years after the first SMS was sent, the channel is still going strong! Companies and consumers alike are using the channel more than ever, and the future of SMS is bright. We’ve taken a look at what 2018 has in store for SMS communication and compiled our top five changes we expect to see in the year to come.

1. A2P will grow in within Europe

A2P, or ‘Application to Person’ communication will continue to grow in European markets. A2P, sometimes called enterprise or professional SMS, is when companies send SMS messages to consumers from an application. Lekab’s customers use A2P communication to send alerts, to confirm appointments, for their customer loyalty programs, to send one time passwords, and more. These messages are usually sent using an API integration, but can also be sent using an online SMS sender.

This type of communication is convenient for companies, who are able to get messages out in a channel that is very likely to be read, and using tools that can be integrated easily with a CRM system or other database. It is similarly convenient for consumers, who can get important information from companies in a trusted, simple to access, and fast way.

2. The use of 2-way SMS will increase

Not only will A2P communication be used more often, but the use of 2-way SMS will increase. This type of message allows customers to respond to SMS they receive. Using this type of tool, companies can have their customers (or employees, or other stakeholders) confirm an appointment, answer a survey question, confirm the receipt of a message, and more. Companies could even take in customer-initiated contact. This could include help requests and other digital customer communication. For example, parking companies can take SMS from customers that, using an API, integrates with their service and allows them to pay for their parking by sending a text.

3. RCS will be developed

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services. These services are basically a number of different services that make SMS more versatile and rich, for example group chats, video calling, advanced phone books, etc. With the support of Google, this type of message will be a reality in 2018. In Sweden (where Lekab is based) the protocol for this has already been adapted, so we’re ready and excited for this change to enrich the messaging possibilities for companies and customers alike.

There are still some question marks however. At this point, we still don’t know what RCS will mean for SMS costs, both for companies and for consumers; we don’t know how big messages will be delivered; we don’t know when this will be available for company-to-person communication, as it will start with person-to-person. We also don’t know when Apple will develop and launch these capabilities, and what that will mean for the competitiveness of Androids!

4. There will be more SMS firewalls

SMS Firewalls will be vigilantly set up to stop the use of illegal grey routes. A firewall is a security system that measures incoming and outgoing traffic, and catches anything that might go awry or that might not be allowed. A grey route is one that is not controlled by what is called ‘interworking agreements,’ that is, established traffic routes between operators. That traffic is essentially stolen, and the cost gets passed on to everyone who is part of the legal mobile chain. Fewer grey routes actually mean more fair prices for everyone who does choose a quality SMS service, because there is less illegal overhead to cover.

5. Faking will increase – so be on the lookout!

Even as operators get better at stopping grey routes, the instances of so-called faking will increase. This is particularly hard to track. SMS marketers beware. With SMS faking, unauthorized senders manipulate the original message data before sending it, altering the center that it looks like traffic is coming from. This lets them pass the cost of traffic on to another company.

What do you as a consumer need to be on the lookout for? Faking is hard to trace, and even when it is shut down, illegal operators usually won’t report that back to your customers, so unless you’re recipients are expecting an SMS that they never get, and complain to you about it, you’ll keep paying for messages that are never sent (marketers beware).