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    SMS Outage - Why it happened and what we’ve done to prevent it from happening again

    Mark Demicoli  15 March 2010 07:51:24 PM
    The recent SMS outage to North American destinations proved to be a major inconvenience to many customers.

    In this post, I wish to explain what happened and what we've now done to prevent such a long outage from happening again.

    What happened?

    Some two weeks ago, a small minority of Clickatell's customers engaged in sending thousands of inappropriate SMS messages, resulting in Clickatell being banned from many major telecommunications networks.

    The nature of the problem was so severe, that they are still struggling to reconnect to all major networks.

    This has taught them a lesson, and us likewise.  High in our awareness is the importance of the trouble-free availability of to our customers.  In our online help, we make it clear that there are always risks associated with using any technology, however some basic diligence goes long to outweigh the risks with the many benefits.  A serious problem with your internet connection, for example, would mean that you could not access your schedule in a timely manner.  Being fully aware of this, we have a feature that sends you a daily email with your forthcoming appointments.  This is one measure that helps to mitigate such outages.

    In addition, we always recommend that customers download their appointments on a regular basis, via the Account tab.  However, even these two measures could not have prevented the SMS outage which was completely out of our control.

    What we've done.

    While we never expected such a long outage from our SMS provider, the experience has been an important one, and we have taken steps to increase reliability in future.

    As a result of this event, we have now engaged the services of a second SMS provider, to whom we can switch in a moment's notice, should this sort of thing happen ever again.

    In addition, we are now working on an automatic detection system which will inform customers by email when SMS messages are not delivered.  That way, the system will give you the opportunity to contact customers manually (by phone or SMS) to remind them of their appointments.   Details of this measure will be announced shortly.

    To reimburse the costs of undelivered messages, we have also stopped deducting SMS credits from all accounts for a two week period from March 18.