Open Source SMS/WAP, Mobile Marketing On Your Terms

I’ve always been a fan of open source software, and anything protected under the GPL license. For quite some time now, I’ve been experimenting with a freely available open source SMS and WAP gateway called Kannel. For those who don’t know what open source means; It’s a type of software distribution in which the source …   Read More

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I’ve always been a fan of open source software, and anything protected under the GPL license. For quite some time now, I’ve been experimenting with a freely available open source SMS and WAP gateway called Kannel.

For those who don’t know what open source means;Â It’s a type of software distribution in which the source code for the software itself is completely free to obtain, and open for any third party to manipulate into anything they want to create with the code. In this case, SMS and WAP functionality for your mobile marketing campaigns.

Kannel is a project that was created back in 1999, and to this day is still the only fully open source SMS and WAP gateway available (someone please correct me if I’m wrong…). The project provides open source components that one can use to build a fully operational WAP infrastructure, as well as an SMS gateway for GSM networks. In their own words, “Kannel was created to make SMS/WAP components freely available to everyone so that the market potential for WAP services, both from wireless operators and specialized service providers, will be realized as efficiently as possible.”

For SMS functionality, Kannel is geared to facilitate the linking of HTTP-based services to various SMS centers using obscure protocols. Similarly, it facilitates WAP communications in a less complex manner to make WAP services more accessible to everyone. Unlike some marketer’s claims, WAP doesn’t actually bring the existing content of the Internet directly to the mobile phone. There’s too many technical and other problems for this to ever work properly. The main problem is that Internet content is mainly in the form of PHP, ASP, HTML, etc. and they’re written in such a way as to require fast connections, fast processors, large memories, big screens, audio output, and may require fairly efficient input mechanisms. That’s OK, since they hopefully work better for traditional computers and networks that way. However, most mobile phones have very slow processors, very little memory, intermittent bandwidth, little screens and extremely awkward input mechanisms. Most existing web pages simply won’t work on them.

The Kannel WAP gateway talks to the phone using the WAP protocol stack, and translates the requests it receives to normal HTTP.

I realize that for most, compiling your own SMS/WAP gateway can be a daunting task, and most of the time simply not worth it, if you want to outsource this I recommend mobileStorm, Movo Mobile, or Golive Mobile. But for some, it’s worth taking the time to play around with for a bit to see if it will facilitate the SMS or WAP campaign your wanting. With the rising cost of WAP marketing, and the pay-per-message model of most SMS providers, I think it’s worth a look. If configured properly, any GSM-based phone can send and receive a large amount of SMS data within reason. If your campaign requires small to moderate amounts of sending and receiving, Kannel might be the perfect solution for you.

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8 comments

  1. Kamal

    Does anyone know what equipment are required to setup Kannel? and what type of operator services are required.

    can I use on simple sim card and any modem option mobile phone to use this serer? I am just trying to hook up an experimental solution to test kannel.

    regards

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  3. Anton Stoyanov

    We actually have made this gadget which you can attach to any PC and (with the right software) it will send SMS and Call people through the SIM card inserted.

    Originally we were thinking of using it for server monitoring, but we can now do complete sms services with it (if the operators don’t mind).

    However, would people prefer using a GSM modem for their campaigns rather then the existing services online?

  4. scott

    it works great for GSM (i.e tmobile , at&t) now finding a cdma (verizon, sprint) device to send sms well that’s a different ballgame . overall its the best the only other really good option is nowsms but you have to pay and you still run into the same issue of modems . and yes agreeing with Colin its no walk in the park.

  5. Colin

    Kannel will support both as an Open Source application, it just depends on how resourceful you can be. I’ve been using Kannel for a few months now while building my beta product, and while I’m very happy with how it’s working. The documentation for anything beyond making Kannel run is tough to chase down (interfacing with GSM devices, SMTP, SMPP, etc). My background is in developing Linux-based VoIP systems, so that helped immensely when developing a Kannel system, but even for a seasoned Linux veteran it was no walk in the park.

  6. justin

    I believe it’s SMTP, you’re right. It would make the most sense, but it’s hard to get a clarification from their website…

  7. Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS

    Do you know if Kannel uses SMTP or SMPP? It was my understanding they went the SMTP route…

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