What is an SMS aggregator?

An SMS aggregator is a company or platform that bridges businesses and mobile network operators (MNOs).

The aggregator acts as an intermediary between companies (i.e., content and brand owners) wanting to interact with end users through their mobile phones and operators.

Aggregators specialize in handling large volumes of SMS messages, routing them efficiently to the right networks for delivery to the end-user’s mobile device. 

Instead of a business needing to negotiate individual connections with numerous mobile carriers worldwide, an aggregator streamlines this process into a single connection.

Since aggregators lack direct access to the SS7 protocol, SMS messages are delivered to the operator’s SMSC but not directly to the subscriber’s handset. Instead, the SMSC further handles the message through the SS7 network.

How does an SMS aggregator work?

SMS aggregators are a crucial bridge between businesses and mobile network operators in the middle of the SMS delivery process. Here’s a breakdown of where they fit:

1. Business sends SMS

A business will use an SMS software platform or API to create an SMS campaign. This includes the message content and the list of phone numbers to receive it.

2. Connection to the aggregator

The business’s SMS platform is connected to an SMS aggregator. The campaign details are sent to the aggregator.

3. Message routing

The SMS aggregator determines which mobile carriers are associated with the target phone numbers. It then routes the messages to the correct carriers based on that information.

4. Carrier delivery

the mobile carriers receive the messages and deliver them to the individual recipients’ phones on their network.

5. Delivery reports

SMS aggregators can provide businesses with delivery reports confirming whether the messages were successfully delivered.

Think of it like this:


SMS aggregator

Mobile network operators

Recipient’s phone

What are the benefits of using an SMS aggregator?

As specialists in delivering global SMS messages, aggregators provide an essential service to businesses that use the SMS channel to communicate with their customers. They offer:

Scalability: Aggregators have the infrastructure, technology, and global network to handle vast traffic without impacting delivery speed and rates. They can handle the usual peaks in SMS traffic and unexpected spikes due to unforeseen events.

Security: SMS aggregators offer an extremely secure service for SMS delivery as they handle traffic for all financial and government organizations with the highest possible security procedures.

Speed and reliability: With reliable direct connections to 700+ global mobile networks, the top SMS aggregators can automatically ensure the most direct and fastest delivery route for every SMS sent both domestically and globally for transactional and hyper time-sensitive messages, for example, SMS messages sent as part of 2FA and 3FA security solutions.

Compliance: Regulations around SMS sending vary between countries and carriers. Aggregators stay up-to-date on these rules and handle compliance, ensuring your messages aren’t blocked, and you don’t face penalties.

Technical expertise: Aggregators have teams dedicated to optimizing SMS delivery, message routing, and troubleshooting any issues that may arise. This frees up your technical staff.

What is the difference between a tier-1 and tier-2 SMS aggregator?

FeatureTier-1 aggregatorTier-2 aggregator
Connection to carriersDirect relationships with MNOsRelies on Tier-1 aggregators or other intermediaries
Message delivery speedFastest and most reliablePotential for slightly slower delivery
CostsTypically lower costsPotential higher costs due to middleman
Control over routingMore control over message routing and optimizationLess control over message handling
Deliverability ratesHigher deliverability due to direct connectionsSlightly lower deliverability rates are possible

Are SMS gateways and SMS aggregators the same?

SMS gateways and aggregators are similar, but they have distinct roles within the SMS delivery process.

An SMS gateway is primarily a software or hardware solution that converts messages between different protocols. It lets computers or applications send and receive SMS messages over telecommunication networks. Businesses often use SMS gateways to send SMS directly from their systems on a smaller scale. A gateway might only have connections to a few mobile carriers.

Meanwhile, SMS aggregators handle large volumes of messages and focus on streamlining delivery across a vast, global network of carriers.


Feb 29th, 2024
4 min read

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