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 currently makes up over a third of the market. As organizations realize the benefits of using SMS to quickly and effectively communicate with customers, commercial SMS traffic is increasing.
But as the market for corporate SMS grows, so does the number of players wanting to take advantage of that market. These players include everything from mobile operators, to SMS aggregators, and system integrators offering SMS traffic as an add-on service. The legal SMS market consists of a well-functioning ecosystem where each link in the chain, from integrators, to aggregators, to mobile operators, is justly compensated for their efforts. In this ecosystem, quality suppliers offer SMS services at fair market prices.
But as always when there is big money at stake, the SMS market also attracts unscrupulous players. These suppliers intentionally exploit loopholes in mobile operators’ infrastructure and networks. By distributing SMS without compensating network owners for the traffic, these actors provide SMS in bulk at very low prices. Unfortunately, there are many options for those who want to abuse the SMS market to do so.
Five of the most common SMS Scams
- Grey routes - unscrupulous players use back doors in the mobile operators’ networks, so called grey routes, to avoid paying for their traffic. Operators will often shut down these dishonest channels as soon as they find them, leaving your messages undelivered.
- SIM farms - making illegal SIM farms lets shady players take advantage of the fixed-price SMS that operators offer to consumers. By connecting hundreds of SIM cards with fixed-price SMS to a central point they can offer low priced bulk SMS. When operators find these farms, they shut them down, leaving you without an SMS supplier.
- SMS spoofing - with spoofing, unethical providers manipulate SMS in various ways to intentionally mislead recipients or other actors in the supply chain. This often involves sending the bill for their SMS to someone else, letting the shady provider offer any price.
- 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.
- 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 what is the limit for a competitive but trustworthy price? And how do you know whether the SMS supplier you’re looking to work with will have the quality you need?
The simplest answer is this basic rule: if it seems too cheap, it’s probably just too cheap.
The fact is that SMS prices won’t differ too much from one (quality) supplier to another. Instead, providers differentiate themselves on their specialized services (such as 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 and efficient way to communicate with your customers, you 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 illegal or unethical techniques, you will likely get low quality 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 at all. Needless to say, undelivered or incorrect messages leave customers dissatisfied and frustrated. This can generate 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 article on evaluating SMS suppliers. When you integrate SMS into your communication strategy, it’s important to choose the right supplier. Download our guide to quality SMS to learn what to look for in your supplier.