What is tier 1 SMS

What does Tier 1 SMS mean?

A tier 1 SMS aggregator connects directly to mobile phone networks for delivery of all their SMS traffic.

They don’t use grey or blended SMS routes for sending any of their standard or binary SMS.

Tier 1 SMS simply means that the SMS aggregator is one step (or tier) down from the mobile network. There is no further transfer of data with other third parties.

It’s is the most reliable type of business SMS available to companies who use it as part of their customer communication.

Tier one SMS is the most reliable and cost effective option

The reason why it’s important to only use a tier one aggregator is that other tier 2 SMS providers use grey routes which suffer from poor reliability.

Grey SMS routes often lack the full set of features that tier one SMS providers offer.

For example, SMS sent through grey routes can be delayed or simply fail to arrive at all. It’s also likely that you’ll be unable to set the sender ID and delivery reports are often missing or incomplete.

So what might appear to be a lower cost option, actually creates major issues.

Using tier 1 aggregators is the only sensible choice.

How can I tell if SMS is sent using tier one routes?

The first clue is the cost that you’re paying per text. If you’re quoted a price that’s way lower than other providers, then that’s a big red flag.

Providers that don’t use tier 1 pay much less per text so are able to offer very low prices. This may seem attractive but it’s always bad value.

Tier 1 SMS provides consistently fast delivery, normally within a few seconds. Delivery reports will be complete and unambiguous. You’ll be able to set the sender ID (as long as the relevant country permits this.)

SMS sent through tier one routes will also have sufficient throughput capacity for all your SMS traffic, which means you won’t experience any delay with message delivery.

Tier one SMS offer truly global reach, with no countries having patchy or incomplete coverage. Using tier one for your SMS means you won’t have to find multiple vendors to cover the countries that you need to deliver in.

Tier 1 SMS provides highest level of data security

Although SMS itself is not encrypted, it’s important that you have as much visibility as possible on who is handling your customers’ sensitive and valuable personal data.

With tier 1 SMS you can be confident that the only people who have access to the data are the SMS provider, the tier one aggregator and the networks themselves.

Tier 2 SMS routes allow customer data to be passed to an unknown number of third parties. For companies operating under GDPR, this could represent a significant data security risk.

How many tier 1 SMS providers are there?

The simple answer is that it’s difficult to tell. In the past few years there have been so many acquisitions and mergers that the whole SMS landscape is changing very quickly.

Certainly in the UK, almost all tier one SMS providers have either been purchased or merged with other, often US based companies.

Globally, we estimate that there are around 50 tier one SMS providers.

Related articles

What is an SMS Aggregator? How is an aggregator different to an SMS supplier?

What is MO and MT SMS? A simple guide to understanding the difference between MO and MT SMS

A guide to SMS Sender ID What can you do with the sender ID and what are the restrictions?

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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