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Commonly asked questions about SMS gateway services

In this blog post, we look at some commonly asked questions relating to the technology and common terms used when sending business SMS.

What is an SMS gateway?

An SMS gateway is a network that has been built to allow computers to send and receive single or bulk short message service (SMS) transmissions to or from a mobile telephone anywhere around the world via a telecommunications network. They facilitate and streamline the text messaging process for businesses.

How does an SMS gateway work?

To send and receive text messages, an SMS gateway connects with mobile network short message service centres (SMSCs). In order to reach mobile subscribers regardless of their network, it may also connect with other SMS gateways so that it can reach mobile subscribers on multiple mobile networks. This means that in order to provide a service that can deliver a message to a mobile phone to most networks anywhere in the world, an SMS gateway will most likely be made up of a combination of mobile network SMSC connections and connections with other SMS gateways.

What is an SMSC?

A short message service centre (SMSC) is responsible for sending and receiving SMS text messages for the major carriers like Optus, Vodafone or Telstra. When a text message is sent from a mobile, it reaches an SMSC. The SMSC then sends the message to its destination. SMSCs route text messages and regulate the messaging process. If the recipient is unavailable (for example, when the mobile phone is switched off), the SMSC will store the SMS message and forward it when the recipient is available.

What are SMS gateway providers?

SMS gateway providers send and receive text message traffic to and from mobile phone networks’ SMSCs, which are then responsible for passing on those messages to the intended mobile phone. Gateway providers like MessageMedia can provide carrier direct services or a hybrid service, or a combination of both service types, depending on the requirements of their customers.

The difference between carrier direct service and hybrid service

Carrier direct service

A carrier direct gateway will send your SMS directly from your computer straight to an SMS carrier. In Australia this means your message will stay within our shores and be delivered directly to Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. This type of connection is essential for mission-critical messages such as fire alerts, or where privacy is a concern, e.g. two-factor authentication (2FA). A carrier direct service is a premium service that requires the gateway provider to have an agreement in place directly with telecommunication carriers and messages are generally more expensive.

Hybrid service

Hybrid gateways will send your SMS by the cheapest route possible. This often means that when you hit ‘send’ your SMS may be sent outside our shores to an international carrier and then back into an Australian SMS gateway carrier. This can delay your message and may mean that delivery times will not be met. The hybrid service is good for bulk message delivery such as marketing campaigns or for messages that don’t have to be delivered within a specific time frame and messages are cheaper than with a premium service.