Carriers Behave Differently READ IT!

Before beginning development and messaging with, it’s important to understand that the mobile carriers we work with are all independent companies that have their own way of doing things. All carriers that support our short codes allow and support the delivery of up to 160 characters in each text message.

But there are a few areas they differ greatly which will affect your development. Plan Accordingly.

Unicode and Special Characters

Want to tell people about El Niño or ask someone to submit their resumé? Be careful. On some carriers that message will be transcribed and show up on a user’s mobile device as 'El Ni$o' or 'Resum'?. This problem occurs mostly on the Sprint network but has also been reported with Verizon.

Generally, common special characters assigned to a Qwerty keyboard using shift on the 1-0 keys (Example: !$#) will deliver properly. Be weary of any special characters which take several keyboard shortcuts to generate. Test!

Check out the below example from a campaign sent on behalf of Spotify, by one of our Clients, in which a musical note was used inside the message. The image on the left is an AT&T iPhone where the one on the right is a Sprint Galaxy S6 (Our S7 lit on fire). Not very cool!

That's some funky ugly monkey above. But guess what happens when you take the musical note out?

Additionally, links typically render properly and you can feel comfortable sending an http:// web address .

Also, if you are using the portal to send your campaigns from time to time, be weary of copying from Microsoft applications. It’s best to type out your campaign within our UI or copy and paste it from a text file. Microsoft Word and other MS applications transcribe special characters differently and it does not behave well when delivered by the carriers.

1600 Character Messaging

Here as well, carriers behave differently. Most of the carriers we work with will deliver a 1600 character message as one text message to the user’s mobile device. However, Sprint will deliver the message in 160 character increments. The problem with this is that the message is often poorly broken with the end of the message delivering first, followed by the middle, then the beginning. It renders the message virtually unreadable. In fact, you can use the images above and get the idea.

The truth is that you can get your message across in 160 characters or less. Sending 500 characters of text to a subscriber will result in an opt-out. This is America. People here don't even read books that long anymore. So keep your message very short. If you need help with that, let us know. We are experts in chopping long winded campaigns.

If, however, an 160+ character message really is necessary, you can use MMS to get your point across with Sprint or any other carrier that supports short codes, and your message will show up clean and unbroken. Now, you may have to go and dig up an image file to make it happen. But pictures make your brand and message better anyways. MMS messages are delivered in one wrapper...meaning, if you combine text with a picture, it's delivered as one MMS message. What that means is you can write that novel you've always wanted to and deliver it to a Sprint phone using MMS and it won't look like long as it has a picture attached. It will look like the figure below.


MMS is super cool for B2C providers. A picture is worth a thousand words and can be used to sell, report and generate excitement to your customer base. We've seen many high response rates for inbound and outbound MMS campaigns. It can also be wonderful for support based applications. MMS is short code supported on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint along with some of their subsidiaries. In the event that you attempt an MMS on an unsupported MMS carrier, will convert the MMS to a link and send it as an SMS.

URLs Embedded in SMS

Here too, not only can carriers affect the display of a message, but so too can the device and the OS the device is running.

If you intend to send URLs, some folks like to shorten them by removing the HTTP://, HTTPS:// and www. out of the URL. In some cases, this link will not be clickable.

It's good practice to include the entire address in your URL as in the same Spotify example pasted below: