Do you know the difference between grey routes and direct routes for SMS delivery?

At ClickSend, we use the best quality routes, enabling you to send messages reliably and without compromise. It’s easy to be tempted to use the cheapest provider for sending bulk SMS. This can be dangerous for your business because there are many providers that use grey routing for sending messages.

What Are Grey Routes?

Grey routes are a cheap and unreliable way to exploit the vulnerabilities in a telecommunications network to send bulk SMS for a fraction of the cost (or often free) between international mobile carriers.

For example, a message may originate in the US and be intended for a recipient also in the US. However, instead of being sent directly from sender to receiver carriers, it can be transmitted via other overseas networks – bouncing around carriers across the globe to eventually be delivered in the US at little or no cost to the sender.

GIF showing SMS bouncing between countries due to senders using grey routes

Grey routing confuses the networks it exploits. By bouncing messages between numerous networks in their journey, from the sender to the recipient, it masks the origin of the message to the mobile networks.

While doing this is not technically illegal, it is unethical. It bypasses interconnection fees to the relevant networks, by utilising a service that’s intended for travellers to use their phones freely overseas. It is not intended for use by businesses, which require messages to be sent fast and reliably – for that there are specialised business SMS services that fairly compensate the providers. By exploiting this loophole, those using these routes can offer cheaper bulk SMS… but at what cost?

If the fees being charged by an SMS service provider seem too good to be true, it’s because they probably are!

  1. Grey routes are a security liability – messages sent via a grey route can be read, copied, or changed, making them vulnerable to malicious content and exposing recipients to undue risk.
  2. Bulk message volume can stress the grey route beyond its capability, and legitimate users of the channel are also compromised.
  3. Grey routes can be suddenly shut down by host networks when they become aware of the practice and this means that messages are permanently lost.
  4. Many messages sent via grey routes stall, get lost, or get blocked, and never reach their intended recipient.
  5. There are also no delivery receipts with grey routing.

This is all very bad for businesses and consumers – wasting money, time, and compromising customer data, satisfaction, and trust.

What are Direct Routes?

Direct routes (or “white” routes) are used by ethical, high-quality SMS gateway software providers.

Business SMS traffic, or A2P (application-to-person) traffic is preferably sent in compliance with host network protocols. Host networks do not want A2P messages to be routed internationally through channels that do not share a wholesale roaming agreement, as when this happens, hosts are not compensated for their services and there is little quality control.

Instead, the host networks have specific mobile channels set up for A2P messaging which are specially designed for business messaging, with a more robust infrastructure for sending high volumes of messages fast. Through these A2P channels, hosts can reliably track mobile origin and destination, allowing them to not only be paid for their services but also protect their customers from malware, spam, and poor service.

GIF showing message being sent from one country and received in another, no detours
SMS direct routes have one origin and one destination, no detours.

How To Tell a Grey Route is Being Used

Many businesses whose messages are being sent via grey routes remain oblivious to this – extremely low prices are the first indicator that a provider may be using grey routes.

However, if your aggregator is unscrupulous, your business could be paying premium prices for direct routes while having your messages actually sent through grey routes, and the aggregator profits from the difference.

That’s why it’s a good idea to ask your SMS provider if they EVER use grey routes or send any messages via anything other than a direct connection to the networks in your country.

Choose ClickSend for Direct Route Messaging!

By choosing a premium SMS gateway provider that exclusively uses direct routes to deliver your messages, you benefit from:

  1. Speedier guaranteed delivery
  2. Reliability
  3. Security
  4. Genuine sender IDs
  5. Avoiding duplicate messages
  6. Protection against spam and malicious content

Improve your communication channels with greater reliability and happier clients – sign up with us today or explore how partnering with us can benefit your business.