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Upwire vs Bulk SMS providers; what’s the difference?

One of the more common questions we get is “how does Upwire differ from the raft of bulk SMS providers out there?”. They might be online platforms or ‘old school’ messaging companies.

It’s a fair question and often customers don’t know what to look for when weighing up their options.

Here’s the key things you need to know.


Self-service platform vs managed service

SMS providers tend to be either self-service online platforms or managed services.

Managed services typically involve you handing over your recipient list and required messaging to a person who sets it up for you. The latter incurs account and campaign set-up costs, and obviously increases turnaround time.

Upwire is absolutely a self-service platform. It’s all about empowering people to set up their own customer communications in minutes, even if you have no specialist IT skills.

And when it comes to making future changes – to messages, personalisation, triggers or reply keywords – there’s no cost at all with Upwire. Just do it yourself in minutes via the drag and drop interface. With a managed service provider, you’ll need to pay up to get these changes made.


Network quality

Bulk SMS providers are renowned for using unreliable ‘grey routes’ to deliver SMS. This helps them offer cheap prices, with the cost being poor reliability.

Grey routes are a way of sending SMS via a network operator where the company sending the SMS do not have a commercial agreement or relationship with the receiving network operator.

Grey routes are a breach of the terms of service for network carriers, that are denied interconnect fees. The result is a never-ending game of ‘cat and mouse’ between carriers and bulk SMS providers using grey routes. The carriers shut them down as soon as they find them, while the bulk SMS providers open up new ones.

The bottom line is terrible reliability in SMS delivery.  Imagine depending on these bulk SMS providers for two-factor authentication, urgent emergency notifications or payment reminders!

The lost customers and lost revenue makes a mockery of the business decision to go with an ultra-cheap SMS provider.

Sometimes, SMS providers market a ‘standard’ (grey routes) and ‘premium’ (legit, legal) SMS services with two different prices.  This is misleading. The so-called ‘premium’ offering is the only one that can offer the reliable delivery for which you chose SMS in the first place. The ‘standard’ option only exists for customers who can’t see past ultra-cheap pricing and don’t care about reliability.

As a business communication platform, Upwire doesn’t touch any grey routes and has direct network agreements globally.


Ease of integration

Platform or system integration is required for all system-triggered SMS.  These might be overdue payment notifications, shipping notifications, or direct debit failures.

Bulk SMS providers will always charge to integrate with your system – that’s expense over and above the effort of integration on your end.  And any future configuration changes – to message content, send delays, or timing – will incur additional expense.

Upwire offers REST APIs for easy integration at no cost.  But the biggest benefit is you only need to integrate once.

All future changes to your SMS communications is done through Upwire’s drag and drop interface. You can change the SMS wording, the inclusion of personalisation (names or account details etc), and auto-replies via keywords. All within minutes and at no cost.


Ability to use other communication channels

Upwire incorporates voice call and email technology on its platform too. This opens the possibility of multi-channel communications in one workflow.  For example, the ability to trigger an SMS if a phone call goes unanswered.

To achieve the same with a bulk SMS provider would require a separate integration or vendor engagement to handle the voice call set-up, and a data wash process to identify the SMS list from those that didn’t answer the voice call.


Choose carefully

When it comes to choosing an SMS provider or solution, choosing based on SMS cost alone will lead to heartache. Poor deliverability and inflexible systems and commercial agreements make bulk SMS providers a dangerous proposition.

Upwire’s been built from the ground up to meet the customer communication needs of global businesses. It is purpose built for reliability, ease of set-up, and future agility.


Free trial. See for yourself how easy it is to set up and launch SMS in minutes with Upwire.



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