Sprint’s SMS Rate Hike & New Terms Now Official, Effective April 1st

Rumors started circulating early last month that Sprint was planning to increase standard rate SMS fees for aggregators, and today we’ve learned the change is official and will go in effect on April 1st.

Open Market began sending out emails to customers yesterday explaining the upcoming changes and rate adjustments.  Most importantly, all SMS and MMS messages associated with standard rate and Free-To-End-User programs running on the Sprint network will now be assessed updated per-message fees.

Here’s a breakdown of the new fees:

  • Standard rate SMS:  $.005
  • Standard rate MMS:  $.0025
  • FTEU SMS:  $.0025

SMS and MMS messages associated with premium services aren’t included in the rate hike, and the update only effects messages sent on the Sprint and Nextel networks.  Boost and Virgin Mobile aren’t included in the new charges, though Sprint eluded that they might be in the near future.  While the rate hike falls in line with what was expected when news first broke, Sprint is also announcing some other changes that effect how messages are sent on its networks.

The changes relate to mixed traffic short codes and changes to “campaign status.”  According to new stipulations, standard rate SMS and MMS messages are “limited to text-based content only and must each be on a unique short code separate from premium services campaign elements unless approved in advance in writing by Sprint.”  In addition, Sprint now requires that standard rate SMS and MMS messages shouldn’t contain embedded URLs, multi-media content, coupons, non-related ad content or WAP Push content.  Messages containing these types of elements are now considered premium services.

These new rules create issues for those running both premium SMS and standard SMS services on mixed short codes.  As such, Sprint detailed two options to become compliant:

Option A:

  • Separate standard and premium campaigns onto distinct short codes
  • Standard rate short code would be classified as standard campaigns
  • Premium short code would be classified as premium and could only run premium campaigns

Option B:

  • Continue running standard rate and premium campaigns on the same short code
  • Short code would be classified as standard rate and message traffic on that short code would be subject to the per message charge

These changes all take effect on April 1st, and we’ll likely hear from several industry groups, mobile content providers and mobile marketing companies well before then.  Sprint is one of the four largest carriers in the U.S. and these changes will have a huge impact on organizations that send large messaging amounts on a monthly basis.  Stay tuned.