The Easy-to-Understand Guide To SMS Aggregators, Carriers, and Providers

With 2 million blog posts written everyday, the internet is flooded with information about how mobile companies work and operate. If you’re anything like me, all that technical jargon is really confusing and it can sometimes feel like you might as well try to be reading a Russian copy of War and Peace.

Don’t worry. We’ve taken all that information and put it in terms that normal people use, so you can understand exactly what we do here at Txtwire. The industry has four main players you need to understand which are Businesses, Application Providers, Aggregators and Carriers.


Ok, so first there’s you. You are the drive behind the industry. You are a business with value to offer. You look to mobile marketing companies like Txtwire to help drive traffic and send your promotions directly to your loyal customers through their cell phones.

Application Providers

Application providers literally provide the software application (the actual system you use to send the messages to subscribers). Some application providers also help you lease a short code from the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA).

A short code is a 5-6 digit phone number that can send and receive text messages on.  You can lease a short code for 3, 6, or 12 months at a time just like leasing a car or an apartment. Besides helping you avoid the nitty gritty details of the application process, application providers also help you manage your SMS campaigns on a daily basis. Txtwire is both an Application Provider as well as an Aggregator.


Aggregators connect the application providers to the carriers. They act as a gateway to enforce the compliance regulations set forth by the CTIA and individual carriers. All SMS traffic must go through an approved aggregator in order to reach the carrier networks. Aggregators also help to get your short code provisioned.

Provisioning is the process of setting up your short code and “use case” with each carrier so your short code is recognized on their network.  This is a mandatory process and can take up to 12 weeks. Connecting directly to an aggregator can require a substantial monetary commitment and specific technical know-how, so many businesses work with directly with application providers to ease the financial and technical burden.


Carriers are also known as providers or operators. They are companies like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. There are over 770 mobile carriers throughout the world and each carrier allows only a finite number of aggregators to access to their network. Companies like Txtwire connect to multiple aggregators to provide the best possible SMS coverage throughout the world.

All the steps to go through can really complicate the mobile marketing industry. But with Txtwire, it’s simple. All you do is sign up for our free trial, and Txtwire’s experts do the work. They jump through the hoops, so all you have to do is log in to the easy-to-use dashboard, type a message, and send it directly to your subscribers. Let Txtwire show you how easy getting results can be.