Five Reasons to Choose Quality Over Price When Evaluating SMS Text Message Suppliers

The global market for corporate SMS messaging is growing rapidly. While this is good news for marketers, corporate communication teams, and SMS suppliers, it also gives less scrupulous players an opportunity  to capitalize on loopholes in mobile operators’ infrastructure. There are several methods used to provide SMS traffic at very low prices. For buyers of SMS services, the challenge is to distinguish between a competitive low price from suppliers with integrity, and the low-quality (sometime even illegal) alternatives.

The Dark Side of the Corporate SMS Market

The global SMS market is huge – it’s estimated at nearly 1 trillion Swedish krona (about 125 billion US dollars) by Portio Research. Business use accounts for over a third of the market, and as more businesses and organizations realize the benefits of using SMS messaging to quickly, easily, and effectively communicate with their customers, the amount of commercial SMS traffic is increasing.

But as the market for corporate SMS grows, so does the number of players who want to take advantage of this growing business opportunity. These palyers include everything from mobile operators, to SMS aggregators, and system integrators offering SMS traffic as an integrated add-on service. The legitimate SMS market consists of a well-functioning ecosystem where each link in the chain, from integrators, to aggregators, to mobile operators, are justly compensated for their efforts, and where quality assured SMS service comes at a fair market price.

But as always when there is big money at stake, the SMS market unfortunately also attracts unscrupulous players who work actively to exploit loopholes in mobile operators’ infrastructure and networks. By distributing SMS messages without compensating network owners and other parties for the traffic, exploitative actors can provide SMS messages in bulk at very low prices. Unfortunately, the options for those who want to abuse the SMS market are numerous. Five of the most common examples of shady actions found in the SMS market are:

  1. Gray routes
    • Less scrupulous players use back doors in the mobile operators’ networks, so called gray routes, to avoid paying for their traffic. The method is not criminal per se, but because operators see it as highly immoral, they often shut down these dishonest channels, leaving your messages undelivered.
  2. SIM farms
    • The establishment of illegal SIM farms lets shady players take advantage of the favorable fixed-price offerings that SMS providers offer to consumers. By connecting hundreds of SIM cards that include fixed price and free SMS messages to a central point, such as a computer, they are able to offer bulk SMS at low prices. Again, when these farms are discovered, they are shut down, leaving you without an SMS supplier.
  3. SMS Spoofing
    • Spoofing by SMS distributors means that the message you send is manipulated so that it intentionally misleads either recipients or other participants in the supply chain. This illegal method often involves sending the bill for SMS messages sent to someone else, leaving the shady provider open to offer an unrealistically cheap price.
  4. SMS Faking
    • SMS messages are sent through different SMS Centers (SMSC). Unethical SMS suppliers will steal their SMS traffic by manipulating the information about which SMSC traffic is coming from. Essentially, they hide behind another provider, so that they never get a bill for the traffic they’re sending.
  5. SMS Spamming
    • Spam is an unsolicited message that you as a recipient haven’t given your consent to receive. Spam ranges from being mostly annoying to explicitly illegal, and illegal spam often includes information designed to trick recipients for personal gain.

When is Cheap Too Cheap?

It’s natural that price plays a factor in your choice of supplier, so where is the limit between what is a competitive but trustworthy price, and what means assured low quality? And how do you as a buyer services know whether the SMS supplier you’re looking to work with will uphold the quality you need, or will utilize dubious methods to be able to offer SMS messages at a lower price?

The simplest answer is based on a basic rule: if it seems too cheap, it’s probably just too cheap.

While that may seem obscure, the fact is that SMS prices won’t usually differ too much from on supplier to supplier. Instead, providers differentiate themselves on the types of services and add-ons they specialize in (for example complex communication needs, or easy API integration). So if a supplier sticks out because of extremely low pricing, you should be cautious.

When you decide to use SMS as a fast, easy and efficient way to communicate with your customers, you probably want to ensure you that your message actually reaches the recipients at the right time, and with the right content. If you choose a provider that relies on techniques that fall into the the gray areas of SMS service, or that are downright illegal, you will likely be getting low quality SMS service. Without trusted actors and legal agreements throughout the supply chain, there is a big risk that messages won’t be delivered they way you want, if they are delivered at all. Needless to say, the result will be dissatisfied and frustrated customers, badwill toward your company, and a loss of business. That’s a high price for cheap SMS!

If you’re interested in this topic, take a look at our other examples of how to identify quality SMS suppliers, and how to evaluate one you might already be working with.