Using email to SMS gateways

3 minute read
Using email to SMS gateways

What is an email to SMS gateway?

An email to SMS gateway is an email address provided by the carriers that enables sending an email and the content is delivered as an SMS to the customer’s device.

The FCC states: marketers may not send unsolicited messages to wireless devices.

Are they still supported?

These SMS/MMS gateways are still supported but much has changed in the past few years as it relates to consumer text messaging. These gateways should be used with caution as much of the traffic would get blocked (similar to a sending number carrier violation).

What is the impact of 10DLC?

The carriers have started enforcing registration of all sending numbers as a way to curtail abuse. Specifically requiring SMS senders using long codes to register with 10DLC.

Does CAN-SPAM address email to SMS gateways?

Yes, in the US the Federal Communication Commission has a published list of email addresses domains that marketers may not send unsolicited messages too. Specifically listing those that are email-to-SMS gateways.

Use of email to SMS gateway

If you have customers opted in to SMS, you can send them messages using these email address domains. However, there are some important details to consider:

  • Carrier specific – in order to send the message to the recipient, you need to not only have their mobile number but their carrier, e.g. AT&T, Verizon and so on, as well.
  • SMS or MMS – for many of the carriers the email address you send to depends on the type of message being sent. A text-only SMS or an MMS with images.
  • Message format – unlike a standard text message, the message format of a text message sent through an email gateway is formatted different. We’ve provided an example below.

The format of a message sent through an SMS gateway is different than a standard SMS message.

Email to SMS example with AT&T SMS Gateway

Below is an example of what an email sent to an AT&T number looks like:

Outbound email

The outbound email is send to an email address provided by AT&T using the format <mobile number> to send an SMS:

Inbound SMS

AT&T receives the email and sends an SMS to the number specified in the to email address. The message is formatted to include additional details:

  • Example
  • FRM: Joyce Jones
    SUBJ: Black Friday Deals
    MSG: Hi Amy, I wanted to let you know that we’re running some discounts at our store for Black Friday. I hope you can stop by.

As you can see in the example SMS, the message format include the from address, the subject and the message.

Common SMS/MMS Email Gateways

The table below is provided for informational purposes and lists some common carrier provided gateways.

You can use a service like Really Good Data to look-up the carrier that a given mobile number is associated with.

To send a text message via email, you must use a SMS or MMS to email gateway. Just substitute a 10-digit cell number for ‘number’ for each carrier below:



We recommend that to our customers that it is best to avoid using these gateways. The text message market is rapidly evolving and its best to stay compliant and follow the recommended best practices. This will help you avoid carrier violations and get your messages delivered.

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