Messaging 1.0 – Bulk SMS

Bulk SMS became a price based business over the last 4 years as the popularity grew with more and more companies communicating with existing and potential clients via text messaging also known as SMS.

Unfortunately, as is the case with all popular communication services or industries, bulk SMS ended up being used for spam and customers complained to the networks as they received unsolicited messages. The networks had to step in and set paramaters in place which monitored the sending of such unsolicited SMS.

Bulk SMS is identified by the text contained within the messages and the sender id – i.e. when bulk SMS is sent, the sender id as well as the content of all messages are the same. This provided the operators / networks with a way to monitor bulk SMS resulting in blocking of routes without advanced warning i.e. any message that remotely resembled sp@m was blocked.

It was time to define the different types of text messages consumers could send. In 2004 the networks started to distinguish between bulk SMS and streaming SMS routes. This distinction implied that messages containing different sender id and text were allowed to be delivered while messages containing the same sender ID and text were blocked by certain operators. (Filtering of messages took place). You may have read of Safaricom’s upgrade to its IN (intelligent network) platform, that will enable closer administration and monitoring of messaging as necessitated by the post election use of sms to instigate violence.

Market segmentation took place as a result of this filtering and today clear distinction is made between bulk SMS and streaming SMS gateways. Please note that streaming SMS is normally allowed if a bulk SMS gateway is used, seeing that the sender ID and text will be unique. In cases where a streaming SMS route for example only allow person-to-person communication, all bulk SMS will be blocked.

The following market segments for bulk SMS are used as a general rule of thumb and it originates basically from customer requirements or customer needs:

1. Web bulk SMS or pc to mobile bulk sms

Web or pc to mobile bulk SMS is sent when a customer logs on to an internet based text messaging service. Some companies also offer online/offline desktop software which could be used for this purpose. A text file with the numbers are created and uploaded to the bulk SMS gateway. One text message is then delivered to the numbers on the list. In these cases clients are normally limited to the number of bulk SMS they may send – for example 2,500 numbers per file upload. If the client wish to send 10,000 SMS they would have to create 4 different files.
2. Pure bulk SMS:
Pure bulk SMS is based on bulk that does not contain any sp@m or adult content. This could be bulk SMS used for specific well wishes or notifications for example a company wanting to wish their customer base of 100,000 (one hundred thousand) clients or more a prosperous new year. Advertising is allowed but the text messages may not contain IVR (interactive voice recognition) numbers or short codes. These bulk SMS gateways allows for dynamic sender ID and delivery reports if the clients are willing to pay a higher price. Minimum purchase volume is around one hundred thousand credits and clients could connect to the bulk SMS gateway with HTTP or SMPP.
3. IVR and short code supported bulk SMS
These bulk SMS gateways allows IVR or short codes to be included in the text messages. It also allows for massive bulk SMS volumes for example 2 million messages to be sent. A distinctive GSM feature of these bulk SMS gateways is that it normally does not support dynamic sender ID and there are no delivery reports. Minimum purchase volumes on these routes are normally around five hundred thousand credits and clients have the option to connect to the bulk SMS gateway with smpp.

Choosing the correct bulk SMS gateway in order to ensure delivery of your messages in a timely manner should not just depend on price. The old rule of “You get what you paid for” applies in the bulk SMS industry as well. If you find a ‘cheap’ route, please ensure that the route is tested prior to making a financial commitment. Clients should plan the campaigns they want to run, investigate various bulk sms gateways based on the requirements and then make an informed decision based on GSM features vs price and support.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.
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