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Old 02-27-2010, 11:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Why Verizon International SMS Text Is Unreliable

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Let me start by advising those who have trouble using Verizon to send SMS messages internationally (or wish to do so) that Verizon's international texting feature basically doesn't work, to any acceptable degree of reliability.

I am an officer in an international NGO and regularly need to send SMS messages to colleagues in other countries, texting while in the USA and while traveling internationally. I previously used T-Mobile, which I found to be seamless with respect to international texting and calling. I have used it while in the US and overseas to call and SMS others on various systems in various countries. No problems.

I recently switched to Verizon and use the Storm 2. I tried to use it to text colleagues in Belgium, Denmark, and Australia. In each case, the SMS was not received (I tried repeatedly).

I checked the Internet and found a number of complaints from confused Verizon users unable to text internationally. I phoned Verizon customer service. After several calls involving uninformed representatives, a "trouble ticket" was opened and shortly thereafter an individual called me. I eventually ended up talking to three different people on three different occasions, each escalating the problem. When I advised one representative that Internet chatter suggests the system often doesn’t work, he exclaimed, “That’s not true!” Alas, it was to turn out, it is true.

I was eventually called and advised by a Verizon representative that Verizon does not have an agreement with the carriers of the mobile phones to which I was texting in Denmark and Belgium. I asked about the Australia number and was advised I would need to open another trouble ticket for that number – essentially that I would have to personally test their system before they would investigate the issue. In any case, it didn’t work for me from the US to three different carriers, unquestionably in three different countries.

I asked the representative if I could get a list of international carriers that accept SMS from Verizon and was advised that I could not. I asked if I could get a list of carriers that do not accept SMS from Verizon and was advised I could not. I later found a list on the Verizon website though, which enumerates every carrier with which Verizon purportedly has texting agreements. I found that the carrier of the phone to which I tried to text in Belgium was Mobistar, which was listed as one of those to which a Verizon customer can text. Therefore, I find the list to be unreliable and deceptive.

When sending an SMS internationally from my Storm 2, I receive no notification that the SMS was accepted or rejected. Thus, there is no way to know if the person received the text or not. As a result, the system is completely undependable and essentially useless, unless you can confirm that the other person receives your texts. Confusingly, receiving text messages from these systems seems possible, so it would seem that the problem is with Verizon’s outgoing system.

Some specifics, of a sort, can be found in Verizon’s website where I was able to find several notices while searching on international texting. For example:

Verizon states: “International Text Messaging allows you to send and receive text messages from your wireless phone to select international destinations while within the Verizon Wireless Nationwide Coverage Area.” The operative word is SELECT, but the Verizon representatives to which I spoke would not direct me to a list of carriers (perhaps because they realized the list is wrong). In any case, I found it to be incorrect in at least one case, and I presume others.

Verizon states: “If you run into problems, confirm that the recipient is using a participating carrier.” Again, no Verizon representative advised how I could do this, but when I found a way, I found it to be incorrect.

My Storm 2 will theoretically roam in countries with GSM carriers on GSM systems. I have yet to try this, although I am quite familiar with international GSM roaming, having used Verizon global phones in the past and, as noted, T-Mobile. I regularly use SMS messaging when overseas, in part to avoid the high cost of international calling. Clearly, Verizon will prevent me from doing so in many cases.

Because Verizon is a CDMA carrier and has high quality service in the USA, it would seem to be an attractive service for many. In the past, when I have used Verizon's global phones for roaming in other countries, I have had very poor experiences (nonfunctional, etc.) I had hoped Verizon had overcome them. I have yet to test the Storm 2 overseas, but this experience with international texting leads me to believe that for international travel, a carrier such as T-Mobile would be a much better choice. I, unfortunately, am stuck in a contract now.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You may want to ask a mod to move this to either the rants and raves section, or the carrier specifici issues section.

First post, and a long rant! You may also want to introduce yourself in the new member section. We often get people who sign up to post one long rant and never come back. You may not get much attention due to this. Do keep in mind this forum is in no way associated with any carriers or RIM.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for this. Happy to see this thread wherever is most appropriate.

I posted this for a simple reason. When my texts weren't going through, I checked various posts on the Internet and found no complete answer. Everyone talking about this problem just seemed mystified. After a lot of runaround, I finally got the answer. My primary goal is for others to be aware of the issue, so they don't have to waste the time I did or rely on their text messages going through. My secondary goal is that the carrier resolves the problem or is more forthright about it with customers.

If there is a better place for this thread, in that context, I'm happy to see it there.
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Since you're locked in, maybe a third party service might help. Something like Google Voice perhaps. Or one of the skype compatible apps with messaging. I think those will also text message as the desktop versions do.

Using the Google Voice app takes more steps, but I imagine is more convenient than sending a message over and over. I haven't actually used it for texting, but the sms option is in there. I think international sms might even be free as I can't find the rates for it, and I just sent an sms to a foreign sim I have and my Google Voice balance didn't change.

Also, there are international texting services that are simply intended to save money on international texts, but in your case would save money and maybe work better. I haven't cared about those in a while but there are lots of websites out there. Many look sketchy though.
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree that third party options are probably the only option. What I plan to do as a primary workaround is not to rely on the Verizon international SMS system, but as a secondary, to follow a route as you suggest. It does appear to be a pain though, as some of these outfits seem sketchy and one would have to write down the number and reinput it from the website, etc.

When a Verizon customer roams overseas on GSM systems, it is my understanding that the carrier that is used is Vodaphone. Hopefully, they don't have the same problems, so while overseas, it may be that the texting works OK. I will have to see when I am there. Perhaps someone else has tried this can can advise?
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Old 02-27-2010, 01:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (L'neuf trois)

Regarding Google Voice and international sms: http://www.google.com/support/voice/...&answer=117527

But from other forums it seems that some people have had success in sending sms to foreign numbers.
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Old 02-27-2010, 02:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks. Yes, it seems clear that one may text from the Verizon system in the US to foreign numbers in some cases, based on Verizon agreements with the carrier the recipient is using. The problem is that there is no real way of knowing if your intended recipient can receive texts, unless you have corresponded with them this way previously and confirmed that it worked. If you occasionally text people on various systems around the world, it may work in some cases and not others. This is the problem with respect to reliability. In the US, you can pretty much assume that a text sent is a text received.
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted

So, the recipients are not using blackberrys, or you can't rely on the recipient being a blackberry user? Seems a situation just begging for you to use PIN messages instead.
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimix View Post
Wirelessly posted (L'neuf trois)

Regarding Google Voice and international sms: International SMS - Google Voice Help

But from other forums it seems that some people have had success in sending sms to foreign numbers.
No wonder there's no price for it.

I have a Thai sim sitting in a Razr and I sent a test message to it when I posted earlier. It came through fine. The app took the +66 country code and number.

Wonder if it works in some cases, but Google doesn't want to "support" it because they'd have to make sure it really worked well, and for all mobile carriers in a country.
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Old 02-27-2010, 10:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aiharkness View Post
Wirelessly posted

So, the recipients are not using blackberrys, or you can't rely on the recipient being a blackberry user? Seems a situation just begging for you to use PIN messages instead.
That would be nice, but just as I do not know the carriers of the various people I might wish to text internationally, I also don't know which, if any, have Blackberry's. Some may, but taking the time to try to find out which ones (if any) defeats the desire to simply be able to text to anyone whose mobile number I know, without having to investigate details.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:10 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Can't you just ask them what carriers they are on? Why is that difficult?
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:35 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Thank you for this. To give you some idea, I have about 90 contacts in my address book who reside in foreign countries and the specific individuals change from time to time (new people in the same positions). I would need to contact all of them, determine their carrier, compare it against Verizon's list of carriers, then have a text/no text list, then refer to that list before texting. But even then, Verizon's list, I have found, is not reliable and they have advised me that it changes regularly (probably why the list is not reliable).

I have occasional, but not continuous need to text some of these people. For example two, an Australian and a Dane were recently traveling in the US and I wished to contact them. I could have phoned them, but that would have caused long distance charges for both me and for them, whereas texting would be around $0.50 per message for each of us. I thus texted them with key information on meeting dates and times. When I didn't hear from them for two days, I became suspicious and ultimately called to learn that they had received no text messages.

For those with fewer overseas contacts and an occasional desire to text, I would say that the best option is to text them nonessential messages and see if they work. If you take the time to find out their carrier, you would have to contact them anyway and then compare to the list which again, seems to be unreliable. The key message is that the system is unreliable and the reason for this. There are definitely workarounds.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:41 AM   #13 (permalink)
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If you did find out their carrier, you could use the SMS gateway. What this would do would allow you to send an email and they would receive it as an SMS, and when they reply, they would reply as an SMS message and you would receive it as an email.

This should bypass any of Verizon's agreements or lack thereof. The only downfall of this would be knowing their carrier. Once you do, you could add that address into the contact's info and you're good to go.

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Old 02-28-2010, 09:58 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Does your org have a benificial suggestion process? Make a suggestion that when they solicit contact info for their records, they ask for BlackBerry PIN. I know PIN's change, but so do other contact details. When an individuals contact info changes, it's their responsibility to notify their contacts. If you ask for PIN, it would inform them that their PIN is part of their contact information for your org. At least you will get PIN's for those who use blackberry.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:02 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Retracted

Last edited by lifesaver1 : 02-28-2010 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:13 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Do the suggestion. You may get a bennysugg award.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:33 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsconyers View Post
If you did find out their carrier, you could use the SMS gateway. What this would do would allow you to send an email and they would receive it as an SMS, and when they reply, they would reply as an SMS message and you would receive it as an email.

This should bypass any of Verizon's agreements or lack thereof. The only downfall of this would be knowing their carrier. Once you do, you could add that address into the contact's info and you're good to go.
I agree that this is a workaround. It is also a way to avoid texting charges entirely, at least outgoing, and particularly international texting charges. Alas, my need to use text is occasional and to a wide variety of people, who I don't have the time to individually track down. However, your solution would work great for someone with, for example, five international contacts they wish to text with regularity. Cheaper too.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:37 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aiharkness View Post
Does your org have a benificial suggestion process? Make a suggestion that when they solicit contact info for their records, they ask for BlackBerry PIN. I know PIN's change, but so do other contact details. When an individuals contact info changes, it's their responsibility to notify their contacts. If you ask for PIN, it would inform them that their PIN is part of their contact information for your org. At least you will get PIN's for those who use blackberry.
No, it does not. Thanks for the idea. The intent of my original post was not aimed at generating workarounds, per se, though some may be helpful. I mostly wanted to point out the unreliability of the system, so that others would be informed and perhaps the carrier would be motivated to address the problem.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:46 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifesaver1 View Post
No, it does not. Thanks for the idea. The intent of my original post was not aimed at generating workarounds, per se, though some may be helpful. I mostly wanted to point out the unreliability of the system, so that others would be informed and perhaps the carrier would be motivated to address the problem.
Gotcha. Good luck. I guess you already know . . . Don't hold out hope for things to improve.
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Old 02-28-2010, 12:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Gotcha. Good luck. I guess you already know . . . Don't hold out hope for things to improve.
Thanks. I think it depends on the degree to which Verizon would consider this important to their reputation for reliability, etc. It appears from what I have read that Verizon relies on a subcontractor to provide its international texting services. There is reportedly a LOT of money to carriers in text services, as texts use miniscule bandwidth to deliver. Presumably, either the subcontractor is doing a poor job, or Verizon is contracting with them at an intentionally lower cost and lower service level.

In either case, I think Verizon could correct this (if T-Mobile and AT&T can do it, they should be able to), if they see it as a priority. They have recently been pushing their international interoperability, since that is a particular strength of T-Mobile and AT&T, so we shall see. What I think they have been doing up to now is implying that they provide a similar level of service in international SMS, though not actually providing it. Part of the intent of my post is to correct this apparent misimpression. Perhaps the emperor has no clothes and having that pointed out, might want to put some on.
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