The delivery of international SMS: outlook for 2025

By Bart Vandekerckhove, Head of Mobile Messaging at International wholesale telecoms carrier BICS

Today marks 22 years since the first SMS message was sent on 3 December 1992 by a 22 year old British engineer to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone, reading "Merry Christmas". While some commentators have been eager to sound the death knell for the humble text message, the reality is that carriers are seeing demand increasing even in the age of disruptive OTT players. Only SMS can operate on any mobile device regardless of operating system, geography and level of network evolution. OTT services cannot offer the same reach and reliability for large enterprises as SMS – which works seamlessly on legacy systems. No matter how big the OTT communities are, the largest community will always be the mobile community with almost seven billion users worldwide. According to estimates by Ovum over 7.6 trillion SMS messages will be sent worldwide in 2015. 

The ability to reach every target customer with one method of communication is invaluable for enterprises and application providers – and here SMS can continue to play a key role. The volumes of A2P messaging are increasing year-on-year with banks, airlines, delivery services and other large enterprises choosing to deliver their messages using the most robust method available. SMS is especially relevant internationally as messages can be delivered over legacy network equipment, offering reach into countries with 2G networks and low land line penetration.

According to the GSMA, 47% of subscribers will still be using 2G services by 2017. With many markets still to launch 3G, the only method of communication to these subscribers, or roamers in these regions, is voice and SMS. Quite simply, no other messaging technology can boast the combination of reach, reliability and immediacy of SMS.    

SMS used to be focused on person-to-person messaging exchange, however, it has now become a business platform used by applications and enterprises (Application-to-Person). This has led to operators revising their strategy on international SMS traffic.

Traditionally, mobile operators were exchanging SMS via direct connections on top of their roaming agreements. However, with the dramatic increase in operators globally, the evolution of MVNOs, aggregators and M2M providers there has been a necessary shift towards the SMS hubbing model. Here, operators sign one agreement which connects them to a central point where they can exchange messages with any international provider.

Hubbing is delivered through an SMS Transit platform. It simplifies the delivery for MNOs and all of the players in the SMS messaging ecosystem and offers operational and technical efficiency savings, including the optimisation of interworking and termination revenues. 



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