The problems with SIM farms

Like grey routes, SIM farms provide an attractive route for businesses to send bulk SMS to their customers at exceptionally low prices. Also like grey routes, they are notoriously unreliable and come with a host of other problems that can seriously damage the effectiveness of your communications and your reputation.

SIM farms are banks of mobile devices which contain SIM cards and connect to networks just like mobile phones. They typically use PAYG (Pay As You Go) SIM cards with unlimited SMS deals offered by the networks, and are commonly associated with SMS spammers.

Sending high volumes of messages through SIM farms violates the Terms & Conditions of the networks who provide the SIM cards, breaching the fair use clause. Networks have systems in place to find and block cards that are being misused in this way, bringing a host of problems for SIM farm users.

When you send a message in this way, you can’t choose a sender name like you can when you use Textlocal, so your customers will see the number of the SIM card the message came from. Big blocks of messages can be spread across a range of cards, giving your customers a range of different ‘from’ numbers. Even more numbers will come into play when SIM cards that have been flagged on the networks’ systems are shut down, and your traffic moves to new ones. Not only are you losing out on important branding opportunities by not having a sender name, you’re giving your customers confusingly inconsistent messages.

You’ve also got no guarantee of delivery times when you’re using SIM farms, for a number of reasons. Bulk SMS sent through these channels have a single point of failure, so if the part of the network those messages are being sent through goes down, there’s no alternative route. Your messages just stop. Furthermore, one SIM can send roughly one text every second. Compare this to the Textlocal Messenger platform, which at peak times delivers 8,000 texts a second. Quite a difference.

Finally, if the networks don’t find and close down the SIM farms, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will. In May, they raided an office in Wolverhampton and seized hundreds of SIM cards being used as part of a SIM farm. This farm was responsible for sending over 350,000 nuisance messages to unsuspecting people, triggering the reports of spam which led to the ICO tracking them down.

It’s easy to see that while operators using SIM farms may offer greatly reduced prices, these come at an unaffordable cost – the efficiency and reputation of your business. Practice safe text, and stick with recognised providers like Textlocal.