Heard the term 'SMS gateway' and are wondering whether it's something you need to be concerned with? If you're sending Short Message Service (SMS) messages for business, it's a good idea to understand what an SMS gateway is and how it works – because it's a type of technology that makes bulk SMS (mass text messages) possible.

Read on to discover some essential need-to-knows about SMS gateways, as well as where you can find them and what to look for when choosing one.

What is an SMS gateway?

An SMS gateway enables you to send SMS text messages from a software application to a mobile phone (or other SMS capable devices) over a telecommunications network. A computer can also receive SMS text messages from a mobile device through an SMS gateway.

In most cases, messages sent from a web or mobile application aren't compatible with SMS. An SMS gateway translates the message into a format mobile devices can recognise.

How does an SMS gateway work?

SMS gateways started out as physical hardware (complete with a SIM card and embedded radio). They were individually connected to mobile networks.

Nowadays, SMS gateways work through cloud-based systems and SMS APIs. Such gateways route SMS messages to mobile networks – specifically Short Message Service Centers (SMSCs) – via a Short Message Peer-to-Peer (SMPP) protocol.

This modern technology is much more convenient for the sender and recipient. It enables businesses to interact with customers quickly and efficiently – simultaneously if required.

For example, imagine you want to send messages to multiple recipients (perhaps all of your customers or employees). They each have unique SIM cards with different mobile networks, and they're located in various countries all over the world.

Rather than connecting individually with each mobile network you want to send messages to, an SMS gateway requires you only to connect once.

When you go through an SMS gateway, your message is delivered to the right person, with the right handset, in the right country and at the time you specify.

(For the record, an MMS gateway is more or less the same thing; an enabling technology that lets you send rich media messages to multiple people.)

Where will I find SMS gateways?

If you want to send and receive text messages for business, whether for bulk SMS campaigns, customer service messages or communicating urgent or time-sensitive information, it makes sense to use an SMS gateway. (It'd be highly time-consuming, complicated and expensive to attempt to do so without one!)

SMS gateways are maintained by mobile phone networks, but you'll find them through any SMS delivery provider – they use them to facilitate text message delivery.

How can I use an SMS gateway?

To use a text message gateway, you first need to choose an SMS API provider. Many different platforms are available nowadays, each offering a range of messaging solutions. Messente is one of them!

SMS gateway example

Which SMS gateway is best?

There are several important points to consider when choosing an SMS gateway. When researching SMS providers, compare the following:

1. Reach

You'll want to choose a gateway that can connect with as many mobile networks around the world as possible. Messente, for instance, enables you to carry out SMS campaigns in more than 190 countries thanks to partnerships with more than 800 mobile phone networks and hubs.

2. API type

It's best to choose a platform that offers a REST API. This is a specific type of API widely recognised and used in the industry. It gives you faster communication, superior performance, security features and is scalable (so it can adapt as your business grows).

Messente's REST API helps you add different messaging capabilities to your applications – as well as SMS messages, you can also send and receive Viber, WhatsApp and Telegram messages.

3. Ease of use

Whatever solution you choose, be sure it can be integrated with your business systems and is easy to use. Usability is an essential consideration if you want to save time and resources. See our Quickstart guide for details on adding Messente to your application.

4. High SMS throughput

SMS throughput is a measurement used by SMS providers to determine how many text messages can be sent per second. The higher the throughput, the more messages you can send to customers in a timely manner.

Think about the volume of messages you need to deliver (and how quickly) and check that your SMS provider can meet your expectations.

5. Excellent customer support

Inevitably, you may come across a problem from time to time when carrying out business text messaging. When this happens, you'll want peace of mind that your issue will be rectified quickly.

Support levels can vary between SMS providers. Some offer online help only, through an sms chatbot or knowledge base, while others provide dedicated human support through phone or video calls. So when researching providers, consider what type of support you'll be comfortable with.

Businesswoman using mobile phone

SMS gateway = SMS API

Essentially, the industry term 'SMS gateway' refers to an SMS messaging API, which you can access via an SMS delivery service. An SMS gateway allows you to send SMS messages in bulk for marketing campaigns and transactional communications.

When choosing an SMS provider, there are several important points to compare, including message reach, throughput, API type, usability and support.

Start your research by checking out Messente's platform and our REST API. Sign up for a free account today and send your first few text messages on us.