Truths and Fairy Tales in SMS Delivery Rate and Speed

Truths and Fairy Tales in SMS Delivery Rate and Speed

Fast delivery of large SMS batches is an art in itself. Speed and delivery rate depend on a couple of factors. Here’s what’s true and false in SMS delivery speed and rates.

High Quality SMS Traffic

The purposes for which companies use mobile messaging can merely be divided in two: high and normal priority of notifications, interactions and transactions. Banks for example use SMS to secure employee and customer login sessions and transactions. Transport companies use SMS messaging to notify their drivers of new or changed destinations. For both purposes counts messages should always be delivered, however the speed of which the messages are delivered for these purposes may and can vary.

Critical business processes

CM processes hundreds of thousands of SMS messages per hour for national and international banks. These messages run through the SMS Gateway platform, which sends the messages to the right operators that deliver the messages to the different mobile devices of their customers and clients. There’s a difference between how fast CM can deliver its messages to the operators and the speed with which operators deliver the messages to the handsets of their customers.

Coverage: Have or Have Not

Unfortunately it is impossible to always deliver 100% of the batches as people disconnect their phones, don’t have network coverage, as phone numbers are being disposed or a dozen other reasons. The speed of delivery however depends on the type of platform and how fast an operator delivers them to handsets.

Just A Matter of Milliseconds

CM’s platform processes messages in high quality routes to operators in 3 to 20 milliseconds. From 36 milliseconds 100% of the SMS Messages has been delivered to the respective operators, if – of course – the operator is not having issues e.g. downtime.  In the case of CM, the platform isn’t bothered by any downtime at all.

From The Operators Point of View

Dutch operators show differences in their SMS delivery speeds. Vodafone for example is the operator with the fastest delivery speeds compared to four other operators like KPN, Tele2, Telfort and T-Mobile. The carrier delivers 20% of the messages in only 1 second, 40% in 1,5 seconds. After 3,5 seconds more than 90% of the messages has been delivered, 98% being the highest delivery rate possible for reasons like wrong or non-existing numbers, lack of network coverage or simply because the handsets has been turned off.

Are You Selling Fairy Tales?

SMS service providers who tell their clients they can deliver 100% of the messages to handsets in just two seconds are selling fairy-tales. It is simply impossible to deliver 100% in such short time because of the reasons mentioned above. Dutch operators alone need seconds of time to deliver. SMS service providers simply cannot influence operators’ delivery rates and speed. In short: delivering an SMS batch in two seconds to 100% of pre-destined handsets is simply impossible. The ambition is always to deliver as much messages as possible, in the shortest period of time. SMS service provider cannot – unfortunately – influence the fact people change phone numbers, switch off their mobile phones or find themselves without network coverage.

Retry System and Beating Fake DLR

CM has systems to assure the highest possible delivery rate. Every message sends back a delivery report, a DLR. That information tells CM whether or not the message was accepted by the operator or was failed to deliver on the handset. If so, the Retry System resends the failed or unaccepted SMS message.

Another issue is the increase of the amount of fake DLR’s. Like a normal DLR, a fake Delivery Report shows a message has been delivered. A fake DLR however says the message has been delivered, but in fact has not been processed at all. CM is working to track and trace companies that send back fake DLR’s. If fake DLR’s are proven, CM registers them on a black list.

To guarantee messages arrive at their destination as quick as possible CM as well depends on the reachability and uptime of operators. If an operator can be reached, the messages get to them in as little a milliseconds. Faster routes and operators can be selected to deliver. However, not a single SMS service provider can guarantee 100% delivery in two seconds. [Tweet this]. It’s just not in their hands. 

Our Network Operations Center monitors and reports worldwide operator statuses. Follow it here.


More on SMS

Enjoyed this article? Please share the news!

About the author

Erik Eggens is an allround journalist, editor, content creator and copywriter and takes a keen interest in mobile, finance and politics.

Connect with Erik on

LinkedIn, Twitter.