Wireless gateways give users of personal computers (PCs) and servers the freedom to send text messages to cellular handsets without connecting their devices to a public switched telephone network (PSTN). Business managers can leverage this power to contact field agents or clients from the comfort of an email application regardless of the technology they’re working with. Since they’re based on the same standard protocols that let smartphone customers text each other, these gateways present users with a truly platform-neutral experience.

Several different classes of gateway have made their way onto the open market in recent years, but most people are referring to an email-to-Short Message Service (SMS) system when they use the term without any other qualifier. Technicians who manage their own private branch exchanges (PBXs) can theoretically deploy their own gateways, but a majority will rely on the services their carriers offer.

Two-Way Email Text Clients

Anyone sitting at a Web-connected workstation can theoretically send out text messages without needing any additional software. All they need to know is the mobile number they’re attempting to reach and the gateway domain managed by the said individual’s cellular carrier. Contacting the wireless customer is then as easy as addressing an email to their phone using their domain code. Nearly all major telephone companies manage exterior SMS gateways, thus requiring only minimum research by the person sending a message.

Routing is handled by central office switches, which means all of the work is transparent to both individuals on either end. Once a text message appears on a person’s smartphone, he or she can simply reply as though texting any normal mobile number. The reply will get routed through the PSTN where it ends up as a standard Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) or Post Office Protocol (POP3)-compliant email message that’s compatible with nearly every email application.

Advanced features associated with the application are always available, which make it easy for enterprise-level users to leverage their existing technological assets. Sales representatives who send texts this way can use a webmail-based address book or customer relationship management (CRM) application to keep track of their clients. Those who work with a dedicated cloud contact center can even route all their messages through a remote server to help secure against certain types of network failure. They could theoretically avail of other types of SMS gateway as well.

SMS Center Gateways

Direct-to-Short Message Service center (SMSC) gateways consist of software libraries that jack into a mobile carrier’s central office infrastructure to convey messages back and forth between different devices. These are a great choice for those who need to configure text aggregators that offer bulk SMS features to other clients. Some large enterprise-level operations can also invest in this technology as a way to automate high-volume messaging chores that would be nearly impossible with standard equipment.

Customer service representatives could author bespoke expansion macros that give them the freedom to send SMS messages from inside a spreadsheet or database application. Using this technique, they can compile complex customer records in a secure format from nearly any sort of productivity application. Specialists who don’t shy away from a bit of additional coding can even add this functionality to spreadsheet documents they may have authored in the past.

Nevertheless, a more direct approach may actually be best for those who prefer not to work with xBase-style languages.

Direct SMS Gateway Technology

Netizens who manage their dedicated SMS aggregators will often position them in-between the PSTN and some outside protocol. For instance, they can connect a direct gateway to a peer-to-peer (P2P) service to send cellular customers a message from nearly any standard chat application. At one point, that would have widely been used to connect phones and workstations because no other standard existed for doing so.

Today, it’s possible to use this technology to attach the chat windows of even the latest videoconferencing apps to smartphone handsets that don’t have access to wide bandwidth data streams. Forward compatibility services are normally baked into direct SMS gateways, which means they support modern protocols like rich communications services much better than most dedicated applications could. Unfortunately, this does come with a few glitches that have to be addressed.

Solving Stack-Related Problems

Each SMSC added to the networking stack creates another point of failure, which is why it’s best to use as few intermediate steps as possible to get a message out. Software sprawl can quickly become a problem for those who want to route messages through several different protocols. In this case, it’s best to utilize a separate gateway for each client being reached based on the communication protocol they need rather than trying to route everything through a single tunnel.

Unicode support may also be an issue, which is a real challenge for those who want to add emoji or accented characters to their copy. Business managers who plan to write multilingual text may want to send out a few test messages first to ensure their content doesn’t get mangled before they decide to deploy the technology on a large scale. Since most other configuration options involved are self-explanatory, though, setting up even a fairly complicated messaging service shouldn’t be all that difficult for those who have at least a modicum of experience.