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Email-To-SMS : Pros and Cons of Sending SMS via Email

Traditionally, mobile carriers have provided a free service which allows their mobile subscribers to receive an SMS message which is originated as an email. These SMTP Gateways straddle the email/SMTP data network and the carrier’s mobile network. Emails can be addressed via some well known format, such as mobile_number@carrier_domain.com (for example, 9193422848@txt.att.net), and delivered to the mobile subscriber as an SMS.

We all know that SMS is often preferred over email as a delivery method for it’s speed, mobility, and open rate.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages of using Email-To-SMS to deliver SMS messages to mobile users. For this reason, Gigabark offers both strategies for delivery.

Advantages of Email-To-SMS:

  • Cost – Mobile carriers often deliver these messages free of charge to the general public. Sometimes there is a small cost, usually when an Email-To-SMS sender has a high enough volume (such that the mobile carrier might otherwise throttle or block traffic) and they reach an agreement with that mobile carrier to allow the traffic at a small per-message rate.

Disadvantages of Email-To-SMS:

  • Speed and Reliability -

  1. Email is not, and has never been, a guaranteed-delivery service.  Email has always been a best-effort solution, and therefore can experience latency problems ranging from 1 minute to 2 hours, depending upon all legs of the delivery path.

  2. Mobile carriers have an expensive, tightly-engineered network, and an expectation for traffic volumes. They have every incentive to control the amount of traffic on the network and to provide the best solution to their subscribers. Therefore, they throttle traffic to limit the rates at which they allow SMTP-To-SMS traffic on their network. They also actively monitor this traffic to block any traffic/messages which they, at their sole discretion, deem to be spam or spam-like. Too many messages in too short of a time can cause any email messages from a domain to be blocked or severely throttled.

  •  Formatting – Another prominent drawback is the diversity of email formats between various services. Message lengths range from 80 to 256 characters. Messages delivered via SMTP will normally omit those parts of the message that carry over the maximum character length. Unfortunately, your code will never discover the discarded parts of your message. In some cases, the Subject field will be used, rather than the Body field. In either case, your code will have to account for this error or else parts of your message will not reach the mobile device, and valuable information will be lost. Email-to-SMS messages will also often be displayed with an ugly caller-ID that looks something like as 12001000101.


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