4. Will the purchased credits or SMS messages expire after a certain period?

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For some SMS gateway providers, the credits or SMS messages purchased can only be used within a certain period. After which the credits or SMS messages will expire and cannot be used any more. If you choose an SMS gateway provider that imposes such restriction, you should be more conservative when estimating the amount of SMS traffic of your SMS application.


5. How good is the SMS gateway provider's network coverage?

Network coverage is an important factor you need to consider, since it is possible that an SMS gateway provider cannot deliver SMS messages to your SMS application's targeted countries or mobile operators. You can very often find a detailed list of the supported countries and mobile operators on the web site of an SMS gateway provider.

However, it should be noted that the network coverage web page may not be updated. Even if it is updated, some SMS gateway providers cannot guarantee that you can definitely send SMS messages to a mobile operator listed on their network coverage web page. This is due to the fact that an SMS message may be routed to other gateways not controlled directly by the SMS gateway providers themselves.

In addition, it should be noted that for some SMS gateway providers, SMS messages cannot reach mobile phone numbers that have been ported between mobile operators.

Many SMS gateway providers give new users a few free SMS messages. You can use them to test the SMS gateway provider's network coverage.


6. How good is the SMS gateway provider's network quality?

A few SMS gateway providers offer a very low price per SMS message, but their network quality is poor and an SMS message may not reach its destination, or it may only reach the destination after a long delay. So, remember to test an SMS gateway provider's network quality. Many SMS gateway providers offer a small amount of free SMS messages to new users. You can use them to test the network quality.

Some SMS gateway providers offer several message routing options. You can decide whether to route SMS messages through more reliable but more expensive networks, or less reliable but cheaper networks.


7. Is the protocol / interface you intend to use supported by the SMS gateway?

Protocols / interfaces commonly supported by SMS gateway providers for sending and receiving SMS messages include:

  • HTTP. It is the most commonly supported protocol for sending and receiving SMS messages. It is very simple to use.

  • HTTPS (HTTP + SSL encryption). Data transmitted over HTTP is not secure. If you do not want your data to be seen by others on the Internet, you should use HTTPS instead. With HTTPS, data are encrypted before transmitting over the Internet, thus protecting the data from eavesdropping.

  • XML over HTTP / HTTPS. One or more SMS messages are put in an XML file and uploaded to the SMS gateway provider's server. XML over HTTP / HTTPS is a better choice than HTTP / HTTPS for sending bulk SMS messages since it enables the submission of a large amount of SMS messages in a single HTTP request.

  • SMTP (email to SMS / SMS to email). Choose SMTP if you want to send or receive SMS messages in the form of email.

  • FTP. One or more SMS messages are put in a text file and uploaded to the SMS gateway provider's FTP server. Like XML over HTTP / HTTPS, FTP is a better choice than HTTP / HTTPS for sending bulk SMS messages since it enables the submission of a large amount of SMS messages in a single upload.

  • SMPP. The SMPP protocol is usually used by advanced users. It is a binary protocol for communicating with SMSCs (SMS centers) and SMS gateways. SMPP is suitable for sending and receiving bulk SMS messages.

An SMS gateway provider usually supports only a subset of the above protocols / interfaces. A few SMS gateway providers also provide their users a COM object free of charge. You can integrate the COM object into your ASP pages or Microsoft Windows-based programs (COM is a Microsoft technology) and call the methods of the COM object to submit SMS messages to the SMS gateway.


8. Is the SMS gateway provider's API well documented and easy to use? Is there any sample code provided?

Well-documented APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and sample code are invaluable to developers. They can help save a lot of development time.

One good use of the API documentation during the SMS gateway provider selection process is to check whether an SMS gateway provider supports a particular feature required by your SMS application. For example, to find out whether an SMS gateway provider supports the sending of concatenated SMS messages, you can check the API documentation to see if there is a description of the commands and parameters for sending concatenated SMS messages.

Some SMS gateway providers require you to register an account or make a purchase before you can download the API documentation or sample code from their web site. Such SMS gateway providers are less preferable.


9. What payment options does the SMS gateway provider offer?

Very often SMS messages or credits are purchased from a web site. So, most SMS gateway providers support online credit card payment. Some also accept PayPal, check payment, direct deposit or wire transfer.

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