September 07, 2015

Not all SMS are created equal: exploring the murky waters of grey routes

With more than 20 billion SMS messages sent every day, SMS has become a primary form of communication for most consumers. It’s also a vital tool for enterprises to engage with their customers and other key stakeholders on mobile. But there’s a dark side to the humble text message, which has serious consequences for enterprises looking for a cheap deal to send SMS to customers and stakeholders.

Not all SMS are created equal!

The journey an SMS takes from sender to recipient can vary greatly, depending on the origin of the message and the mobile operators involved. An SMS travelling between two licensed and established mobile operators is smooth and very quick – this is what’s known as a white route. But not all operators and countries across the world have the same standards and regulations when it comes to telecommunications, it is possible to route a message through different countries and less scrupulous operators and platforms to save money. This is what is known as a grey route.

Using a grey route is the equivalent of taking a bus from London to Beijing. Yes it’s cheaper than flying and you’ll probably get to your destination eventually, but you’ll be exhausted, disorientated and a bit smelly when you arrive. Grey routes often involve the use of a service or platform that is legal in one country, but not always both countries of the sender and receiver. While grey routes are technically legal, they are far from legitimate and cost the telecommunications industry billions. They also have many risks attached.

Security and accountability

With white routes you get complete transparency, you know the exact routes your messages take and you get accurate delivery and read receipts. With grey routes, you can never actually be sure of the journey your messages take when sent, and when they have been received. Worse still, delivery receipts and read receipts are often falsified along the journey.

And more importantly, you can’t guarantee your customers’ details will remain secure as your messages are passed through a series of less reputable platforms. Being held responsible for a data leak can be catastrophic for your organisation’s reputation and has been the undoing of many established brands.

Poor performance

Because your messages are routed through less established platforms across the world, grey routes do not offer the reliability and security of white routes. It takes time to route the messages through other platforms, so your messages are often delayed or, worst still, never reach their destination. One of the advantages of SMS is that you can reach your consumers at precise times that will create the most impact, grey routes severely reduce your ability to do this.

Bad user experience

Again, as a consequence of being routed across various less established platforms, your message can be altered or corrupted, such as broken text and hyperlinks or the sender ID is replaced with an international number – which damages the credibility of your message.

A delayed delivery also creates a poor user experience and could damage your organisation’s brand. Imagine you’re sending out an offer to your customers that expires within a short time. If your customer doesn’t receive this offer in time, or the offer has expired by the time it’s received, they will not be pleased with your service.

Does mGage use grey routes?

Because not all SMS are created equal, the ‘buyer beware principle’ definitely applies to using grey routes. mGage will always use white routes between licensed and reputable operators across the world. We place a higher importance on effective communication, quality and protecting your organisation’s reputation, rather than just offering the cheapest price.

To organise an informal cup of tea, a chat and a bespoke demo of how we could help your business, please contact us.

The information included herein is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be taken as such.  All clients are responsible for meeting legal requirements and other rules that apply to their messaging programs.  Consultation with legal counsel is strongly recommended.

Jack Ukropina
Jack Ukropina / Administrator

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