There are approximately 125 wireless carriers in the USA. What happens if a person who’s subscribed to a text messaging service or SMS platform sends a message to a person subscribed to a wireless carrier? Does the sender’s service provider pass his text over to the recipient’s SMS network directly?
Actually, the sender’s text service provider sends that message to an SMS aggregator instead. The aggregator receives a message and redirects that message to the wireless carrier to which the recipient is subscribed.
SMS platform services use SMS aggregators to link them all into the huge network of wireless carriers. For example, a text message sent online through a text service provider will go through an SMS aggregator before reaching the recipient that uses AT&T, Verizon, or any other carrier.
Aside from connecting carriers together, SMS aggregators exist because of carrier compliance. They make sure that all messages sent by text providers comply with the rules and regulations of the carrier that will receive those messages.
These aggregators make the life of online text service providers easier. If they don’t exist, a text service provider needs to set separate filters and configurations to ensure that every message sent by its customers complies with the specific rules of the recipient’s carrier. It would also need to sort the messages out to ensure that they will be sent to the proper network.
Working With An SMS Aggregator
One may think that it would be better to work directly with an SMS aggregator and skip the SMS platform to reduce marketing expenses. Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea, and it isn’t as simple as eliminating a middleman.
As a business, one would need to have two things to work with an SMS aggregator. First, the right amount of message volume to make sure that the price of the aggregator’s service will be worth it. Second, the proper hardware and software in order to handle the messages and communicate with the aggregator’s system. Basically, one must become an online service text provider to get the most out of an SMS aggregator’s service.
And that’s not all. The business should also consider the type of SMS aggregator that it needs to contract with. The type of aggregator will dictate the type of messages that can be processed, the networks the messages can send to, and the price of the service. These types will be discussed in the next section.
Types Of SMS Aggregators
There are two types of SMS aggregators: Tier-1 and Tier-2. In the United States, the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) publishes a list of Tier-1 and Tier-2 SMS carriers. The last time it happened was in 2016. It made the aggregator evaluation process today take a closer look at the services a carrier should provide. These are the differences between Tier-1 and Tier-2 SMS aggregators.
- Tier-1: These aggregators can support sending SMS and MMS to carriers in the USA. Tier-1 SMS carriers connect directly to the top 5 carrier networks in the US, namely Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. Tier-1 aggregators handle the highest throughput to connect software providers and carriers.
- Tier-2: This other type of aggregator can offer a direct connection to at least three of the five major us carriers mentioned above. It can only support SMS, offering limited services and lower costs compared to tire-one SMS carriers. Because they lack direct connection, they use third parties for sending text messages.
Between the two, Tier-2 can look more appealing because of its price. But Tier-1 SMS aggregator offers better reliability. So if a business heavily uses an SMS platform, a provider that operates a Tier-1 SMS aggregator will provide better services for them.
SMS Aggregators And SMS Gateways
Are the two of them similar? In a way, yes. To be specific, SMS aggregators also function as an SMS gateway. To understand this relationship, you need to learn a bit about how SMS messages are sent and received.
When a person sends a text message, the message goes to the nearest cell tower. The cell tower then sends that message to a carrier’s SMS center (SMSC). The SMSC then relays that message to the nearest cell tower where the recipient is.
The process is simple, but the SMSCs of different wireless carriers use different communication protocols. If they were people, you can say that these SMSCs use different languages to talk and different SMSCs from carriers can’t understand a message received from a texter who’s subscribed to a different carrier.
The main function of an SMS gateway is to act as a translator for all SMSCs. An SMS platform needs one to make sure that it’ll be able to send messages to different SMSCs of carriers using the proper communication protocol.
In A Nutshell
SMS aggregators are just one of many things that SMS platforms or online text service providers deal with to allow businesses to market using SMS without breaking the bank.
On one hand, SMS aggregators are there to make it possible for SMS platforms to do what they do. On the other hand, SMS platforms are there to make it easy for businesses and marketers to send messages over SMS networks without the complex technicalities and expensive investments.