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Monday, October 25, 2010

Integrating ID24-7 with Asterisk / Trixbox / FreePBX

For anybody interested in using our ID24-7 CNAM service with their existing Asterisk, Trixbox, or FreePBX installation, here are the instructions:

http://www.data24-7.com/wiki/index.php/Asterisk/Trixbox/FreePBX_Integration

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ID24-7

Yesterday, Data24-7 launched it's new subscriber name lookup service, called ID24-7.

There are many names for such services; CNAM, subscriber name, reverse phone lookup, etc. But they all do the same thing; they look-up your phone numbers and return the name of the person each phone number belongs to.

There are a few things about our subscriber name lookup service which make it better than the competition:

Hit Rate -  Our service returns the correct name for over 90% of wireline phones queried.  The hit rate for wireless phones is much lower (not sure of the percentage), but we think both numbers are probably higher than most of our competition.

Price - As usual, our per-query fees are way lower than anybody else is charging. $0.006 per phone number.

Ease of Use - As with our other products, you can use this one with our simple HTTPS based API, enter phone numbers manually, or upload batch files of phone numbers from our website.

Stability - We're ready for your queries 24-7.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tips for Sending Text Messages via E-mail

I've worked closely with several of our Text@ clients using the wireless phone carriers' email-to-sms gateways, and here are some tips I've learned:

1. Understand the limitations - While using the email gateway addresses is a lot more cost effective than sending text or MMS messages through an aggrigator, there are a few drawbacks. Firstly, messages sent using the email gateways cannot be tracked - you will not get a confirmation that the message was delivered or received. Second, messages sent via the email gateways may not always arrive at their destination in as timely a manner. Usually this is not a problem; from my experience, unless you start sending a large amount of messages at a very rapid pace. But I have seen messages get delayed by some carriers, sometimes for hours. I'm not sure why this happens, but it may have something to do with trying to filter out SPAM.

2. Pace yourself - Any carrier at any time has the right, and the ability, to stop delivering your text messages to it's clients. If they start flagging all of your inbound emails as SPAM, then your messages will never make it to your customers' cell phones, and you will probably not be informed that you've been shut off. I've seen this happen to one of my customers. They were running fine for many months, and then they started ramping-up their campaigns and sending out about 20 emails per second for hours at a time. After a few weeks of doing this, it was eventually realized that at least two carriers had stopped delivering the messages. This is the only case where I've seen this happen, so it seems like the carriers only take this action when they are getting bombarded with emails. But unfortunately, each carrier can have their own set of criteria for determining when to shut someone off; so there are no hard numbers or rules to follow. If the messages you're sending are not time critical, then I would recommend sending them out over the longest amount of time possible.

3. MMS Messages - While most people realize they can send text messages via the carriers' email gateways, most don't realize that they can send multimedia messages as well. Many carriers have two separate email domains; one for SMS and one for MMS. Others use the same email domain for both. Sending MMS has several advantages. First, the character-count limits which exist for SMS messages (which vary by carrier) don't exist for mms messages. Second, you can attach pictures or sound files to your email messages (the same way you'd attach them when sending to regular email addresses), and your customers will be able to receive them along with your text message. Note that different carriers have different requirements for pictures, and if the picture doesn't meet the criteria, it won't get displayed.  I've found that making your jpg file as small as possible is important (Linux users: convert -quality 2 inputfile outputfile). Also, I've found that 640x480 pixels seems to work well for most carriers.

4. Obey the laws - Many countries, including the USA, have strict anti-SPAM laws which include text messaging. Regardless of whether you're using an email gateway or an SMS aggrigator, it's important you understand the laws for your country and the countries you're sending message to. Here is a link for the USA: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-Compliance-Guide-for-Business


I hope this was helpful. If you have any helpful advice to add, please leave a comment!