Monday, February 27, 2012
At CallFire we get a lot of questions as to what an SMS gateway is. The many terms used to describe the large network of mobile carriers and SMS gateways can be quite confusing. To help alleviate any confusion, CallFire has put together a guide to answer some of the more frequently asked questions on SMS gateways.
  1. How do SMS gateways work?

  2. Gateway providers like CallFire and Clickatell have special agreements with the major mobile carriers around the world to send two way SMS traffic. These gateway providers, also known as aggregators, will send and receive SMS traffic to and from the mobile phone network's SMS Center, which are responsible for relaying those messages to the intended mobile phone. The aggregators then receive feedback from the SMS Center as to the status of the delivery of that message. This relationship between aggregator and SMS Center allows for the transmission of a large number of SMS messages.
  3. How do SMS gateways usually price?

  4. Typically, SMS gateway providers can be divided into 3 categories in terms of how they require you to pay for their SMS service: Credit-based: You purchase a number of credits from the SMS gateway provider. Sending one SMS message will cost you one or more credits, depending on the country or area of the country you send the SMS message to. For example, sending an SMS text message to India might cost you one credit while sending an SMS text message to the United States might cost you two credits. The cost of the credits is often dependent on volume. Per SMS-based: You purchase a number of SMS messages from the SMS gateway provider. The cost for sending one SMS message is the same for all destinations. For example, if you purchase ten SMS messages, you can send at most ten SMS messages no matter the destination is India or the United States. The cost per SMS is usually tied to the level of volume you plan to generate. Pay-As-You: The Pay-As-You-Go model allows you to pay flat rate. Often, there are volume discounts that are scheduled for bulk messaging. Rates can be as low as 1 cent per message or as high 10 cents per message.
  5. What are enterprise SMS gateways?

  6. Enterprise SMS gatways solutions allow businesses to transmit and receive bulk SMS messages to mobile phone networks around the world. Gateway providers like CallFire and Clickatell have special agreements with the major mobile carriers around the world to send two way SMS traffic. These gateway providers can send text message traffic to a mobile phone network's SMS Center, which are responsible for relaying those messages to the intended mobile phone. Enterprise level businesses can utilize these SMS gateway solutions to send and receive bulk SMS text messages from all around the world.
  7. What is a Short Message Service Center (SMSC)?

  8. A Short Message Service Center (SMSC) is responsible for handling the relay of SMS text messages for the major telecom carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile. When an SMS message is sent from a mobile phone, it will reach an SMS center first. The SMS center then forwards the SMS message towards the destination. The main duty of an SMS center is to route SMS messages and regulate the process. If the recipient is unavailable (for example, when the mobile phone is switched off), the SMSC will store the SMS message. It will forward the SMS message when the recipient is available. Most of the major carriers run their own SMS center's. You must know the address of the wireless network operator's SMSC in order to use SMS messaging with your mobile phone. Typically an SMSC address is an ordinary phone number in the international format. A mobile phone should have a menu option that can be used to configure the SMSC address. Normally, the SMSC address is pre-set in the SIM card by the wireless network operator, which means you do not need to make any changes to it.
  9. What is a Message Delivery Report

  10. After receiving an SMS message, the recipient mobile phone will send back a message delivery report to the SMS center to inform whether there are any errors or failures (example causes: unsupported SMS message format, not enough storage space, etc). This process is transparent to the mobile user. If there is no error or failure, the recipient mobile phone sends back a positive delivery report to the SMS center. Otherwise it sends back a negative delivery report to the SMS center. If the sender requested a status report earlier, the SMS center sends a status report to the sender when it receives the message delivery report from the recipient. If the SMS center does not receive the message delivery report after a period of time, it concludes that the message delivery report has been lost. The SMS center then re-sends the SMS message to the recipient.
  11. What is an SMS aggregator

  12. SMS gateway providers are often referred to as aggregtors. The aggregators have multiple agreements with the large mobile network providers such as Verizon and T-Mobile to send and receive text messages through these networks' SMS Centers.
  13. What is a direct to mobile gateway?

  14. Direct to mobile gateways allow SMS text messages to be sent and/or received by email, from web pages or from other software applications by acquiring a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM card) . Direct-to-mobile gateways are different from SMS aggregators because they are installed on an organization's own network and connect to a local mobile network. The connection to the mobile network is made by acquiring a Sim card from the mobile operator and installing it in the gateway. Typically, direct-to-mobile gateway appliances are used for low 100's or 1000 texts per month and are not used as an enterprise solution.
  15. What are SS7 providers?

  16. SMS gateway providers are often referred to as SS7 providers. SS7 itself, refers to a protocol of transmitting and receiving a text message from a mobile phone to the the large carriers SMS Center. The SMS gateway providers or SS7 providers have special agreements with the large mobile networks to send and receive messages via the mobile network's SS7 protocol.
  17. What does SS7 protocol refer to?

  18. SS7 refers to the protocol of transmitting and receiving text from the large mobile carriers to the mobile phone destinations. Aggregator or SMS gateway providers don't have acces to SS7 protocol so they must drive all their traffic to the large mobile networks.
As you can tell, SMS gateways are a crucial component to bulk mobile messaging. Here are some additional helpful links to help build an understanding of how SMS gateways work:

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