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SMS short codes and long numbers: 4 things to save you time and money

Speed up your time to market by resolving the most common issues with short code and VLN connectivity for your SMS campaigns.

March 23 2015

SMS marketing can do wonders to expand marketers' reach and boost engagement. Yet, setting up SMS short codes and VLNs for your systems or brands can be time-consuming, if not approached in the optimal way. Speed up your time to market by resolving the most common issues with short code and VLN connectivity for your SMS campaigns.

MNO connectivity. SMS messaging connectivity with a mobile network operator normally requires companies to take two technical steps. First you need to get API documents from the MNO and do some programming within your own system to connect it with the MNO's. The connection can be established over different telecommunications protocols - SMPP, HTTP, UCP, EMI or others - depending on the MNO platform. Secondly, a secure VPN tunnel needs to be created, for transferring SMS messages over the internet. VPN tunnelling requires specific devices, software and knowledge, in order to configure, test and monitor the connection. Both these steps can be time-consuming for companies that are not used to working with telecoms, or lack the internal capacity to handle technical prerequisites. On the other hand, there are specialised providers already connected to MNOs around the world. Companies like Infobip are a single point of connection to telecoms, making messaging capability easily available for other companies. They also provide web interfaces for fully featured SMS campaign management.

Communication and consultancy. Sometimes, getting to the right person or department to discuss your messaging requirement can take a lot more than you expected. You can find yourself sending a lot of emails to wrong addresses in the hope you will get consultancy and options for SMS campaigns you're trying to set up. If you're operating internationally, sometimes the time zone will be a challenge, sometimes it will be language. You can skip all that by relying on a provider who, aside from possessing technical expertise, has also established close relations with telecoms, and has quick access to all the information on short code and VLN connectivity. Knowing what, whom and how to ask is essential for getting 2-Way SMS numbers in the shortest possible time.

Commercial and legal documents. Legal and commercial aspects of connecting to a mobile operator can be another challenge, if you're looking to launch your 2-Way service quickly. Negotiations can be time consuming, especially if you need to do it with more than one MNO in more than one country. Alternatively, you can have everything settled – commercially and legally – through the relationship with a single company. That way you can focus more efforts on your core business and services, and obtain everything from one provider, and a dedicated account manager. Within that relationship, you can manage the arrangement with considerably less strain on your time and resources.

Regulatory demands, local office. In some countries, telecoms regulators are the key holders of short codes for 2-Way SMS communication, and local presence is often a prerequisite for short code application. Instead of going through the trouble of opening a local office, and solving things with the telecoms regulator, it is usually much better to find a professional partner to resolve that, and save both time and money on the service setup.