Mobile network operators must be able to deliver SMS messages wherever their users go, meaning that an operator must be capable of sending messages anywhere in the world, even when the user is not on their network (the user is roaming.) To facilitate SMS sending and delivery between people (peer-to-peer SMS) when users are roaming, network operators built hubs to move the SMS traffic amongst each other, globally.

Any organization that has a mobile network operator’s license or has been granted access to these hubs can use them to send SMS messages to mobile phones. A grey route is created when someone uses such a network hub to send SMS messages between network operators that don’t have a traffic agreement in place between each other. It’s a loophole that’s exploited, but network operators are working hard to stop grey routes from happening and shut them down when they’re found.

What it means to SMS service quality and your business

Messente’s SMS gateway clients never have to worry about grey routes, because we never enter a relationship with a network hub or partner that uses grey routes –ever. We spot grey route connections quickly because our insight into the industry tells us when the price to send messages through a particular hub is absurdly low –lower than a direct connection to the network operator with high SMS volume. (Learn more about how you can spot grey route offers here.)

Working with a global SMS service provider that only establishes legitimate connections, businesses are protected from the pitfalls of grey routes –which are:

  • Grey route connections eventually get shut down. So SMS service can be interrupted at any moment, without warning to the client, at any time. 

  • Delivery reports don’t happen. Or at least they’re not real since a delivery report from a shady connection only means that the message has been sent, but the provider tells the client it is delivered. 

  • Sender IDs can get blocked. Once a network operator shuts down a grey route, they may also investigate the traffic, which means they could block sender IDs (the message originator’s address) –even from legitimate connections and legitimate providers.

While network operators also look into the businesses that used SMS service providers who had grey routes, we can’t expect everyone to be an expert in this industry. Things happen, so we advocate for our clients with network operators to keep sender IDs and branding open through our legitimate connections.