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Overview

SMS gateways are used by CommCare HQ to send and receive text messages. Each gateway is represented by a phone number - this could be a full phone number (e.g. +1-555-123-4567) or a shortcode (e.g. 13341).

Various types of gateways exist - so use this page to determine which SMS gateway is most appropriate for your project. 


Summary of Gateway Options

The table below summarizes the four main gateway options that can be used for SMS projects. For most projects, understanding the high-level pros and cons is sufficient for determining which gateway option to adopt.

If you're interested in using a particular gateway type, start by working from our existing resources - found below in the "Deep Dive" section. If at any point along the way you have challenges or questions, please feel free to contact us. 

 ProsConsResources

Dimagi Global Gateway

Reliable, standard solution for projects needing high volume outbound SMS

Sends messages internationally

  • Already connected to CommCareHQ (no setup time required)
  • Send/receive high volume of messages at a low cost
  • Reliable
  • Only available in supported countries
  • Higher costs for outgoing and incoming messages.
  • Phone number is shared. Cannot use system with unregistered users.
  • Outgoing messages are not free for end users (No reverse billing)

Review the Dimagi Global and In-Country Gateways table below to determine if your country is supported.

If your country is not supported, use an Android gateway, or contact us.

Dimagi In-Country Gateway

Ideal for large-scale initiatives and national campaigns

Sends messages nationally

  • Already connected to CommCareHQ (no setup time required)
  • Can support reverse billing (i.e. end-users can send SMS at no cost to them) and/or toll-free numbers
  • Send/receive high volume of messages at a low cost
  • Reliable
  • Limited to in-country communications (i.e. messages cannot be sent to numbers from another country or in another country)

Review the Dimagi Global and In-Country Gateways table below to determine if your country is supported.

If your country is not supported, use an Android gateway, or contact us.

Android Gateway

Ideal for short term, small pilots and projects

Use an Android phone to send and receive messages.

  • Simple option for small pilots and trials
  • Phone number is dedicated. Can use system with unregistered users [future].
  • Quick to setup in a new country

  • Requires ongoing upkeep
  • Not appropriate for large scale projects. Cannot support large volumes of messages
  • Somewhat unreliable - phone and app must be running and connected to internet to receive SMS and can potentially be shutdown by telco
  • Not a long term solution

Instructions to setup an Android gateway on HQ:

Setup an Android SMS Gateway

New In-Country Gateway

Ideal for large-scale initiatives and national campaigns

  • Phone number is dedicated. Can use system with unregistered users [future].
  • Can potentially support reverse-billing (i.e. end-users can send SMS at no cost to them)
  • Send/receive high volume of messages at a low cost
  • Reliable
  • Set up requires significant time and money

For guidance on identifying gateway options for a country, please contact us.

Dimagi Global and In-Country Gateways

Dimagi Global and In-Country Gateways are always available for use without setup time/cost, and Dimagi manages the relationships with these gateway providers. In the table below are our existing relationships. This table will be updated regularly. 

GatewayDescriptionSupported Countries
GRAPEVINE-ZAGrapevine is a South Africa-based gateway. Users can send messages to this phone number for free (messages are reverse billed). The phone number for this gateway may change depending on which network provider the receiving phone is using.

South Africa

Lesotho

MOBILE_BACKEND_MACHMach is useful for sending messages to a wide range of countries, but currently only supports outgoing messages. The phone number will change based on the selected country.Various Countries
MOBILE_BACKEND_MEGAMOBILEMegamobile is a Philippines based gateway.Philippines
MOBILE_BACKEND_TROPO_USTropo US can send and receive messages using a US-based phone number. Sending to international countries will be more expensive. The phone number for sending/receiving messages is +1 617 575 2704.Various Countries, but US number
MOBILE_BACKEND_TROPO_CANADIANTropo Canada uses a Canadian number to send and receive messages. It is sometimes more reliable than Tropo US for international messages. Sending to international countries will be more expensive. The phone number for sending/receiving messages is +1 514 400 9265.Various Countries, but Canadian number
MOBILE_BACKEND_TWILIOTwillio is another US-based phone number. International messages will be more expensive. Rates to a given country may differ between Twilio and Tropo. The phone number for sending/receiving messages is +1 617 600 0456.Various Countries, but US number
MOBILE_BACKEND_UNICEL

Unicel is an India-based gateway.

  • Outgoing shortcode is LM-COMMCARE
  • To send messages: +91 98 45 204984. Due to Indian regulations, you cannot reply directly to a message from the shortcode. Messages must be manually sent to this number.
  • Opt-in number: +91 77 60 962755. Due to do-not-disturb regulations, the message start must be sent to this phone number before using this gateway.

 

India
MOBILE_BACKEND_YOYo is a Uganda-based gateway. The shortcode for this gateway is 8291.Uganda

 

 

 

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