Sprint Blocks Call-Em-All's Text Message Access

UPDATE - This issue has been resolved. We thank you for your patience. 

Note: The following information pertains only to our SMS feature. All voice broadcasts are able to be received and will continue to be sent to all phone numbers regardless of carrier. 

At 7:38pm last night (9/19/2013) we received an email with a title starting with "URGENT ATTENTION" from our text message service provider. What was contained in the email was indeed urgent, as we were notified that Sprint (who also owns Boost, Nextel and Virgin Mobile USA) has decided to block us from sending and receiving text messages from their subscribers via our short code (292929). Unfortunately, we were given no warning and this came as a surprise.  We’ve been working diligently to resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Why did this happen?

While short codes are the fastest, most professional method for sending text messages, they are owned and controlled by the CTIA “The Wireless Association” and the cellular carriers.  The CTIA routinely scans the internet for websites that are promoting short codes, in an attempt to ensure compliance with their rules and guidelines.  In the past three months, the CTIA discovered two of our customers’ websites that promoted a keyword without the proper terminology - things like “std msg&data rates apply” and “text HELP for help”.  We reached out to these customers and the CTIA has now closed both of the violations and marked them as resolved.

This next part might sound strange, considering the violations were minor and were on websites that we cannot control.  However, Sprint has now tagged our short code as a “repeat offender”, and has disabled all messages to and from our short code.  We believe this to be a mistake, but we have been unable to resolve the issue with Sprint.

The impact

Those who have opted into our customer's keywords and who are on any of the Sprint Family of carriers, about 15% of our currently opt-in mobile numbers, can not receive a text message initiated by Call-Em-All customers. Also, anyone on Sprint's network who are attempting to opt into a customer keyword will receive an error message.  As you might imagine, this is unacceptable to us. At this time we are working to resolve this issue directly with Sprint, although the timing is horrible considering it is Friday evening and we have received no direct support from Sprint. Our engineering team is working to determine if a workaround can be put into place but unfortunately at this time we are at the mercy of Sprint.

Next Steps

Rest assured we are working very hard to resolve this issue. We have and are still attempting to convey to Sprint the negative impact this has on our customers. Many of our customers use our SMS and automated message feature to send emergency messages to their contacts. This is not lost on us and we take our up-time very seriously. It is these emergency notifications which we are most worried about not getting through to Sprint's customers. FEMA recommends using text messages during emergencies because they know that data networks (which SMS messages are sent over) do not always experience the same congestion that the phone service can.

We will continue to update this post as we are provided with additional information.  Thank you for your support and understanding while we fight through this frustrating situation.

- Brad & The Call-Em-All Team

Brad Herrmann

Brad Herrmann

Brad Herrmann is the founder and president of Call-Em-All, an automated calling and group texting company that provides solutions for small and medium sized businesses, large corporations, membership organizations, community groups, and individuals. Since 2005, Call-Em-All has grown to send more than 5 million group calls and texts each month. Brad is a graduate of Texas A&M University.