What is an SMS Service Provider?

NowSMS is not a replacement for a bulk SMS or MMS service provider. You need a connection to an SMS service provider, or a GSM modem, before you can send any messages with NowSMS.

NowSMS is a middleware tool which simplifies the process of connecting to one or more of these SMS service providers and/or managing one or more GSM modems.

NowSMS can connect to SMS service providers using one of the following protocols:  SMPP, UCP/EMI, CIMD2 or HTTP.  (SMPP is preferred for the best performance.)

What is an SMS service provider? Well, to avoid any confusion from the start … if you’re looking for free SMS, you’ve come to the wrong place.

SMS is a big money maker for mobile operators. Every time an SMS message is delivered to a mobile phone, the one thing that you can count on is that the mobile operator to which that phone is subscribed, is getting paid.

In most of the world, the sender pays for an SMS message to be delivered, and the recipient receives it for free. (Things are slightly different in the USA, where both sender and receiver pay.)

A mobile operator will not accept an SMS message for delivery unless it has a direct or indirect billing relationship with the sender. (The USA is an exception here, with providers offering free e-mail to SMS gateways because in this case they are willing to charge only the recipient.) The billing relationship can be direct, such as when you have an account with a mobile operator that allows you to submit messages to their SMSC. Or it can be an indirect relationship when the mobile operator of the recipient has a billing relationship with your SMS service provider or another mobile operator through which the message is being sent.

Most mobile operators have an SMS service provider offering which will allow you to connect to the operator SMSC to deliver messages. However, these connections often require relatively high initial setup fees. Independent SMS service providers are often aggregators of traffic, buying bulk SMS capacity from one or more mobile operators, as well as other aggregators, allowing them to offer services less expensively than dealing with the operator directly.

But beware, as the lowest priced SMS service provider is often not the most reliable. In many cases, the lowest priced providers are delivering messages over roaming links from foreign providers. While these links can be more cost effective, they are more susceptible to delays.

NowSMS does not recommend any particular SMS service provider, and we have customers using many different providers, and connecting to many different operators.

So what about the free SMS sites?

Well, at the end of the day, someone has to pay for an SMS message to be delivered. While a web site might offer free SMS to its customers, unless a temporary loophole in an operator pricing plan has been found, the operator of that web site is paying for SMS messages to be delivered. That is why these sites limit the number of messages that you can send within a given period, and why they go out of their way to ensure that you submit messages through their web site instead of using automated programs like NowSMS.

The cost of providing the free SMS service on these sites is usually subsidized by advertising. Advertisers pay the site to run ads, and at the end of the day, the goal is to collect more in advertising revenue than is spent providing the service.

Other free SMS sites may have different reasons for providing a free service. The free service might be a teaser for a premium service, providing just enough functionality that the web site operator hopes that it will encourage free users to migrate to a paid service.

The thing to keep in mind is that somebody is paying for the SMS messages to be delivered.

What about Reverse Billed SMS?

Reversed billed SMS, which is generally known as Premium Rate SMS, is a special type of SMS where the receiver is charged for receiving a message, and the sender receives a percentage of the amount that is charged to the recipient on their mobile phone bill.

Premium rate SMS is not available in all countries. Where it is available, like with other types of SMS, the sender must have a direct or indirect billing relationship with the recipient’s mobile operator in order to send a premium rate SMS message. This is understandable because the recipient’s mobile operator is going to charge the recipient for receiving the message.

By purchasing bulk capacity, many independent SMS providers offer more attractive revenue share and/or lower setup fees for premium rate SMS than what is available from the operators.