Monday, 7 April 2008

Alphanumeric sender restrictions come to Spain

Spanish operators seem to be clamping down on the use of alphanumeric sender aliases. Instead the messages must come with a valid reply-path be it shortcode or MSISDN (standard mobile number).

This is in an attempt to combat SPAM messages being sent to their subscribers. The theory, it would seem, is that if a number is used then the sender can be identified. Allowing the recipient to identify and reply to the sender to unsubscribe from the service.

These kind of restrictions are very broad brush approaches to problems caused by a minority that have a big impact on the majority. I've talked before about these kind of restrictions in Web-sent SMSs now face restrictions. It's puts in an interesting situation.

Many of our customers make heavy use of the facility to brand their messages with their own company or service name. A quick mystery shop round other SMS service providers in Spain reveals that it's business as usual. Alphanumeric senders are fine, they're happy to carry the traffic.

Currently, we have a number of routes into Spain that allow traffic with alphanumeric senders to pass, the messages are received and delivery receipts returned without issue.

That said one of our routes is having issues with alphanumeric senders to one of the Spanish networks. Is this a standard technical issue or this symptomatic of a tightening up of the restrictions?

So do we give the customer what they want while we still can along with everyone or do we self-police our customers and use one of our Spanish virtual mobile numbers for those that don't want the extra cost of having a dedicated number?

The risk if we do the former is that routes get summarily blocked to all traffic rather than just traffic that fall foul of the restrictions because that's pretty much all the operator can do at an interconnect level. This means customers with legitimate messaging have their service disrupted.

However, if we do the latter, we risk losing customers to other service providers who are prepared to carry the traffic.

We're going to put it in the hands of our customers for as long as possible. For those that rely on our service to get the messages through without any potential downtime, we will recommend using our Spanish virtual mobile number service.

We'll just be ready to switch it on for the customers that are happy to risk an alphanumeric alias for the meantime.

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