SMS aggregators fill in an important gap within the telecom industry. They provide businesses with an extremely valuable service while also carefully navigating the restrictions and politics of the telecommunications sector. This task doesn't come without its challenges, and in this article, we'll cover some of the most common difficulties that SMS aggregators are likely to encounter.
The challenges of SMS AggregatorsAVOIDING GREY ROUTES
One of the biggest obstacles that SMS aggregators face is avoiding grey routes. Grey routes are SMS pathways that circumvent regional laws and fees. Rather than sending an SMS to its destination using the most direct route possible, grey routes go through channels and regions with loose regulations. While it can be tempting to use grey routes in order to cut costs, it’s an illegal practice that gives the entire industry a bad name.
Not only is grey routing bad for a company's reputation, but it also reduces the quality of your SMS messages. As they go through these less regulated channels, they can lose data, take longer to send, and appear less legitimate to the receiver, causing poor B2C and B2B relationships. And since the regions that utilise grey routes are doing so illegally, these routes could be shut down at any point.
The difficulty in avoiding SMS grey routes is that you aren't always in control of the channels that an SMS is sent over. In general, it's the network that you send a message through that decides how it's going to be routed. In order to avoid SMS grey routes, it's important to rely on networks that are well reviewed and known to be secure. Trustworthy networks will use white routes, which are completely safe and legal. Companies within the telecom industry are pushing back against grey routing, with white route traffic expected to rise from 50% in 2017 to 85% in 2022.BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OPERATORS
Another challenge of SMS aggregators is managing all of the various relationships with the telecoms of their region. When relying on local operators rather than global ones, SMS aggregators can get caught in a juggling act, trying to keep each network provider pleased while also managing the torrent of messages that they are sending out.
Every telecom company has its own way of doing things, its own rules and requirements. To build and maintain a successful relationship with telecom providers, SMS aggregators need to be aware of these differences among providers and adhere to them to the best of their ability. Contract renewals, network fees, terms of service changes; all of these things can complicate the role of SMS aggregators.
Building these relationships from scratch can also be exceedingly difficult. Many operators don't have software in place that makes it easy for aggregators to interface with their network, leaving the task to aggregators to create the software themselves. This, multiplied by the thousands of networks out there, makes operator relations a herculean task.INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS
Just like each network provider has its own set of rules, restrictions, and preferences, so do different countries, provinces, and regions. Violating these can not only sour your international relations but actually put your operations in jeopardy. Some countries don't allow application-to-person messages to be sent at certain times, while others regulate what kind of content you're allowed to send to consumers.
Most countries also require that you get some form of approval before sending aggregate messages to its citizens, which generally involves signing a contract and possibly paying fees. This means that if an aggregator is going to continue channelling SMS to a country's population, they need to be well versed in that country's laws regarding SMS.
Keeping up with and adhering to the different laws of each region is a challenge enough on its own, but when coupled with the fact that countries and network providers change their regulations on a frequent basis, it can become a tumultuous ordeal. And unless you plan on only routing SMS messages through a single country, it's a job that every SMS aggregator has to toil over.OUTDATED TELECOM INFRASTRUCTURE
Unfortunately, the truth of things is that while the telephone industry has been unprecedentedly revolutionised over the past few decades, most of the telecom industry has barely kept up. The telecom networks put into place were never intended to host the immense amount of A2P traffic that they now experience on a day-by-day basis.
Service providers usually have minimal to no API systems in place for SMS aggregators, leaving the burden of software development on aggregators that need to use their networks. And even when designing these systems, the interactions with providers can be slow and awkward.
The routes that SMS messages travel on can also be less than optimal. Messages can end up bouncing between several different towers before finally reaching its intended recipient, with each transfer creating a moment of vulnerability for the message being sent. While areas of the telecom industry are certainly making strides towards a more aggregator-friendly system, it's still an outdated and troublesome sector for aggregators to navigate.
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