What do you expect from centralized messaging systems?

| Comments (4) | Networking
Yes, yes, Verizon sucks for refusing to allow blast SMSes from NARAL, even if they did eventually recant. But fundamentally what you should be objecting to is a system in which you need permission from Verizon for this kind of activity ( this was opt-in so NARAL wasn't spamming). But that's what you get when you have a centralized messaging system going through some provider choke point instead of a transparent data bearer service. You'll note that I can make some Internet mailing list without asking Comcast or permission.

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Dude, you can have opt-in SMS groups or lists that do not require the carrier servicing the group members to cooperate. The carriers have an easier way to create a subscription than others, and NARAL had hoped to set up a common use of that mechanism across carriers. From the Ars Technica report:

"While Verizon Wireless does not monitor the contents of every SMS message sent on their network, the abortion rights group had hoped to establish a "short code" service (e.g., "text 55555"), which would need to be supported by each mobile operator to be effective on all networks. While their request was approved by other carriers, Verizon Wireless initially said "no." "


If you had hoped to have "educatedguesswork@everyisp.net" work as a list address, you would have had to get everyisp.net's cooperation.


Wireless carriers may well be walled-garden tenders, but you're hitting them for the wrong thing. You don't need permission from them to send SMS, even group SMS. You just need their cooperation on the "short code" for subscription, if you choose to use their service to set up the group SMS. If you gather the members some other way, at least if I understand things rightly, they are a mere bearer for your SMS.

Yes, I realize that you can just blast SMS without the "short code" feature, but I think your mailing list comparison doesn't get things right. It's true that if I want to have a mailing list rooted in a single domain you need the help of the domain owner, but it's trivial to get your own domain. By contrast, Verizon owns the 55555 namespace by virtue of being the carrier (which is why each provider has a different binding to the same name)--and that's bound to the provider, not to some owner of the namespace. That's an important respect in which they are not just a bearer.

You might want to check the common short code administration rules for obtaining a csc.


From my understanding, you can get exactly this functionality with zero coordination with any carrier (and without spending $$$ every month). The trade-off is in number length. With coordination, you get a shorter number. At this point it is 6 digits versus 10. 5 digit short codes are still, possible, so it is possible it is 5 digits versus 10.


But the coordination effort required to get a CSC does not make SMS itself a centralized service, at least as it is commonly understood.

Well, the CSC codes just give you the space; there's no guarantee that the carriers will actually forward it:

REGISTERING A CSC IN NO WAY GUARANTEES YOU THE RIGHT TO SEND OR RECEIVE COMMUNICATIONS USING YOUR CSC OR THE RIGHT TO USE THE CSC IN ANY OTHER MANNER. IN ORDER TO ACTIVATE YOUR CSC, YOU MUST OBTAIN APPROVAL FROM EACH INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPATING CARRIER IN WHICH YOU WOULD LIKE TO TRANSMIT CONTENT. THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF ALL SUCH ARRANGEMENTS WITH INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPATING CARRIERS ARE AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THAT PARTICIPATING CARRIER AND WILL NOT IN ANY WAY INVOLVE THE REGISTRY OR THE CSCA.

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