Cost effectively sending SMS?


I'm working on a startup idea (have been for a few months, in fact). Part of this idea revolves around sending SMS reminders/alerts to my customers (fairly heavy usage).

The startup is to be based in the UK and target primarily the UK market which has very patchy support for the email-to-SMS gateways you guys in the US seem to have - not that that would be an ideal solution since you need to know their provider.

I was planning on integrating with Twilio 's SMS API, which looks great (and I still might, depending on the answers here!) but at £0.03 per SMS, it could end up eating into my profit margin too much, given the price point for my product/service I've deemed necessary to shoot for.

What are my other options? Can I buy a mobile phone on a contract with unlimited texts and go-about integrating that with my app somehow. Or can I buy some kind of GSM modem or something? I don't know much(/anything!) about this.

I thought here would be the most appropriate place since it's something many start ups have probably had to tackle and is more a question of "how do I do this cheaply for my startup?" than asking for advice on the specific technical implementation.

Cost Low Cost

asked Mar 18 '13 at 20:30
557 points
  • I don't see how this is on-topic for this site. This is a technical implementation question about a very specific/niche topic. This doesn't fall under starting and running a new business. Can you edit this question? – Zuly Gonzalez 7 years ago
  • I'm not sure how I can edit it to fit the site any better. I don't think I agree with it being off-topic for the site though. It's **not** a question of technical implementation. It's about doing something cost-effectively to make a new business/startup viable. Go ahead and close if you still disagree. – Anonymous 7 years ago
  • Twilio employee here: Our pricing has gone down almost annually so although I make *no* promises, it's worth checking in occasionally. On another note, we pride ourselves in it only taking five minutes from creating an account to send a text message. If you need a hand, feel free to drop me a note. We have a pair of evangelists around London too. – Casey Software 7 years ago
  • @CaseySoftware - Thanks for dropping by. :-) Yes, I'm definitely planning on using Twilio. 3p/text seems more than reasonable given the lovely API etc. If I reach the stage where I'm sending colossal amounts of SMS' I'm sure (or at least hopeful) I'd be able to secure some kind of preferential rate for buying in bulk etc, but we'll cross that bridge... – Anonymous 7 years ago
  • I'm not sure about pricing going down (I'm sure it's gone up for UK SMS), but I do like Twilio and would recommend using it. If you are sending a lot of messages, however, it seems that [Tropo]( is nearly always cheaper (2 cents per message ~ 1.3p). – Brendon 7 years ago

1 Answer


3p is about average for sending SMS messages in the UK, you'd be hard pressed to find something cheaper. I would consider, rather than Twilio, using BulkSMS. I have used these in the past and can vouch for their reliability on the basic package (this is only a personal recommendation though, I haven't used Twilio!).

To cover your final statement with regards to a contract phone, you can of course do this, but it's normally against the terms of service for this kind of usage. What you could do, though, is call up a business manager at one of the phone networks and discuss your options, they may be able to at least match a deal or even beat it if you were on one of their not "unlimited" packages - just explain your situation clearly.

For business tariffs, T-Mobile seem to be the best in the UK, so I would speak to them first.

answered Mar 19 '13 at 00:22
Rudi Visser
136 points
  • Thanks Rudi. I expect this is one of those things that benefits from the economy of scale. I did stumble across BulkSMS when I was researching the various API's available. Twilio came recommended in high regard from a number of users on SO and they seem to have the most competitive pricing so I'll probably roll with them for now. When I'm past the startup phase and am doing a serious amount of texts, that will probably when I look into some kind of in-house phone setup, when the greatest saving will be made. Thanks. :-) – Anonymous 7 years ago
  • @Anonymous not a problem - good luck with everything. – Rudi Visser 7 years ago

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