When we launched GatewayAPI.com almost 11 months ago, we launched with two message classes, or service levels if you will; “premium” and “bulk”. Going forward we are replacing “bulk” with “standard” and this blog post will among other things tell you the good reason why.

I will start by describing the problem with “bulk” SMS and then describe how we deliver our SMSes.

The problem with “bulk”

It quickly became apparent that what we thought of as “bulk” where not the bulk sms product our customers expected or what we generally find in the market under the name “bulk”. There are a lot of misconceptions that are not comparable with our product, ie.

  • Bulk SMS is slower than “normal”
  • You can’t be sure a Bulk SMS is delivered
  • Bulk SMS may not support your own sender

Some of our competitors are providing a very low cost product, where they send the SMSes through far-away places in order to transmit SMSes at unsustainable low prices, taking advantage of interconnects across borders. Ie. send a SMS bound for Denmark via a round trip to Thailand first so it would arrive over a cheap interconnect. It’s easy to see how this adds latency, making it a slower product.

Often this is used for unsolicited messaging, or Spam SMSes, since the cost in some cases is extremely low.

Of course the carriers where not happy with this situation and they have been mass deploying “SMS firewalls” the last couple of years. The specifics vary by implementation, but in general they react to different patterns in the messages or connections that are unusually busy. I don’t know how many Danes on average exchange SMSes with Thai mobile numbers, but if Danish carriers start receiving millions of messages from Thailand it’s pretty clear that it’s abnormal and will likely be firewalled. This is a common cause for bulk sms delivery rates to suddenly drop.

While there are use cases for this kind of product, it’s not something we offer or endorse. When we said bulk SMS, we meant wholesale SMS offered at affordable prices, delivered with best effort in terms of speed, but never sacrificing deliverability or features.

In fact it is our position that 98+% of our A2P (application to person) traffic should be sent using our bulk sms product. Clearly this is not the same bulk sms product as described above.

Premium

With premium there is still a bit of confusion, as some use premium to refer to SMS payment. However when we say premium we mean a premium service level.

For the premium product we provide

  • The most direct route possible, worst case 1 hop connections
  • An encrypted message flow end to end
  • Fastest deliverly of messages
  • SMS payment where available (coming later)

Through a partnership with a major multinational carrier, our premium product has direct routes for 21 countries, with 77 more as 1-hop connections. We will release details on this soon, when we get the NDA lifted. We also work directly with all the carriers in our home market Denmark.

We will expand the direct routes to even more countries as we build up the required traffic volumes to work directly with the carriers in these countries. Traffic for countries not part of the 98 connected via direct or 1-hop, goes through 2-hop connections but still using premium providers.

The hop count referes to the number of intermediates between the source (you), and the destination (end users mobile network). While there are many other important factors such as latency and capacity, in general less hops is better.

Premium is a good fit for

  • Mission critical messaging
  • Sensitive communication (ie. health care, passwords etc)
  • Special legal requirements (ie. direct route only)
  • A2P messaging that are not cost sensitive

Standard

SMSes sent using our most popular standard product, are essentially best-effort delivery. In some countries this will be via a direct route, in others via partners, but in general we do not offer anything beyond 2-hop routes. For this product we expect a fast and safe delivery of your messages, at highly competitive prices.

We closely monitor our routes and keep a good balance towards quality over price. In rare cases congestion may occur and for some routes delivery reports may be less than 100%, however this is the exception, not the norm.

Our standard product is what we envision bulk sms to be, the bulk of your SMSes delivered fast and at a good price.

Standard is the default class (or service level) in our APIs and we stand by it 100%. If you didn’t explicit set the class in your API call, then it’s sent via our standard product.

Standard is a good fit for

  • A2P messaging, cost sensitive
  • Marketing
  • Wholesale communication
  • Bulk SMS
  • Everything you can think of, except unsolicited messaging (spam)