All you need to know about grey routing

Why should your business care?

When opting to use SMS to communicate with your customers, it might be very tempting to opt for the lowest cost solution. But what if that means putting the security of your message content and contact data at risk? Would you even consider this solution if it meant your messages were delayed, or even not being delivered at all? This page aims at giving you all the information you need to help you make an informed decision when considering your SMS provider.

What is grey routing?

To put it in the simplest words, Grey routing is someone taking advantage on the mobile phone networks.

In order for SMS to be sent between different mobile networks, providers usually have a commercial agreement in place to charge each other an internet working fee for delivering the SMS to the end user.

However, between overseas mobile networks providers, especially those who don’t usually have high volumes of SMS exchange on a regular basis, providers will usually deliver the message for free.

Now instead of sending your message from one Australian network provider to another, one can send your message to a remote foreign country’s network first – somewhere like Afghanistan or the Solomon Islands – then back to Australia, the cost of sending this message can be reduced to almost nothing.

When this is done in a business environment and involves a high volume of SMS, this is called “grey routing”.

Is grey routing illegal?

Technically no, it is not illegal. But it is also not meeting the intention between the networks. The intention of such agreement was for person to person (P2P) traffic only, so that individuals can send messages while they are overseas.

When it comes to business SMS (also referred to as application to person – A2P), networks providers have a different agreement with each other to ensure that all parties involved are properly compensated for sending the message.

What are the risks of sending messages through grey routes?

First of all you risk the security of the content of your messages and the contact details as these information can easily be copied, altered and intercepted. The messages might also get delivered slower than it would with direct networks. And finally your messages might not get delivered because if the mobile phone networks realised what is happening they will shut the connection down altogether. And they are finding more ways to detect grey routing activities.

What can the mobile phone networks do to prevent the use of grey routes?

Mobile phone networks are cautious when dealing with grey routing as they would not want to shut down the personal SMS. However, with the help of technology and software solutions, it is estimated that by 2020, 50% of them would have implemented software that identifies the use of grey routing and shut them down instantly.

How can I tell if my messages are going through grey routes?

First of all it’s the price. As it is much cheaper to send your messages using grey routing, it is very likely that you will be quoted with a very competitive price. If you see a price that is significantly lower than other providers, that could be an indication that your messages would be grey routed.

The second indication is how quickly the messages are being delivered. Set up a free trial with the SMS providers and test it out yourself. If you see a significant delay, there is a good chance that grey routing are being used.

And finally ask your SMS service providers how your messages would be delivered. Ask if they use local mobile phone networks i.e. direct connections to ensure that your messages would not be grey routed at all.

If you would like to know more

Download our grey routing eBook for an in-depth commentary on the subject. In the eBook, we will share with you some original data collected from an Esendex survey on attitudes on grey routing across various countries. We will also go into further details to explain terms like direct connectionsaggregators, and the actions mobile phone networks are taking against grey routing.