Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Virtual Mobile Numbers - Out of Bundle?

I heard something rather worrying yesterday. It seems that some mobile network operators are taking SMS messages to virtual mobile numbers out of bundle.

This means that when someone sends an SMS to a virtual mobile number instead of being deducted from the SMS allowance that comes with their contract, the message is billed on top.

This is not the same as operators charging SMS messages to virtual mobile numbers that look like UK numbers but are actually hosted off-shore, like Tyn-Tec's Isle of Man number range. This is apparently happening to UK mainland numbers from Vodafone, Orange, etc.

This is crazy and very short-sighted, but unfortunately typical.

Over the years ay Esendex we have time and time again convinced our customers to use Virtual Mobile Numbers when communication with their customers via SMS.

Just broadcast to customers and you might as well be shouting at them. Give customers a reply path and you are interacting.

Where virtual mobile numbers differ from shortcodes is that as far as the recipient is concerned they are just like any other mobile number, and, importantly, SMS to them are billed liked any other mobile number.

This means there is very little resistance from the customers to interact. The messages are essentially free and more interaction occurs.

I don't understand why an operator would stand in the way of this.

Interaction = more engaged subscribers = more messages = plan upgrades = higher ARPU

Isn't that how it works?

I've had some brief interactions with operator interconnect teams and based on these experiences I suspect this is where this 'initiative' originated.

There is very much a sense of 'we're not doing it so we're going to do our damndest to spoil it for everyone else', like a petulant school child.

Am I wrong?

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