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Understanding SMS International Termination Rates

SMS International Termination Rates

This short article defines SMS International termination rates (ITR) and the role that they play in the cost of sending an SMS.

It’s a non-technical article, so it’s ideal for people wanting a quick overview, without getting bogged down in detail.

What Are SMS International Termination Rates?

SMS International termination rates, (ITR), are the fees that mobile network operators charge each other for the delivery of SMS messages across international borders. 

These rates can vary significantly depending on the country of origin and destination, the carrier networks involved, and various other factors.

How much are international termination rates?

The amount that networks charge each other varies dramatically from country to country and even different networks in the same country can charge varying amounts.

The range is from less that 1 UK pence right up to around 15 pence or more.

This is partly the reason why A2P SMS rates are rising so dramatically.
In September 2023, research company Mobile Squared revealed that;

Mobile Squared logo
“The average cost for a brand to send an SMS internationally has almost doubled from $0.033 to $0.0646 from 2021 to 2023.”

Nick Lane, their Chief Insight Analyst, suggests that the price rises could mean that businesses use SMS less than before or look for more cost effective messaging channels.

Nick Lane Mobile Squared

“SMS was experiencing strong growth with the number of businesses using SMS starting to approach 10% of total businesses globally, but we could now be looking at businesses using SMS peaking in 2024, which should never have been the case.”

Are SMS termination rates what a business actually pays for sending SMS?

No, a business will pay more than the international termination rates. ITR is an internal cost that the networks charge other networks to deliver a message.

A business will use an SMS aggregator to send messages and will pay an additional amount which includes the profit margin for the aggregator.

Each SMS aggregator sets their own pricing, so businesses should compare pricing, products and service before deciding which one to use.

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Henry Cazalet Managing Director
Co-founder and Director of The SMS Works, a low cost and powerful SMS API for developers. About Henry