Twilio turns on global SMS service

Twilio, a cloud communication platform, is finally offering its most requested feature: global SMS support. Now, developers will be able to enable their apps and services to send and receive SMS text messages from the U.S. and Canada to more than 150 countries around the world, increasing Twilio’s SMS reach to billions of people.

Twilio will now be able to handle messages in dozens of languages including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Russian. Previously, Twilio allowed customers to send text messages to just the U.S., Canada and UK.

The San Francisco-based company already supports international voice calls and had hoped offering SMS around the world would be as easy as voice. But extending text messaging support proved to be a lot harder than first imagined, said Patrick Malatack, product manager for Twilio.

He said the voice industry is more mature and requires fewer carrier relationships to connect calls. But with SMS service, Twilio had to increase its carrier support from dozens to more than 1,000 operators. The company also had to come up with its own routing logic to find the most efficient route for text messages.

Malatack said SMS support will help a lot of existing customers including messaging services and companies that use Twilio for business processes. He said users will now be able to send text messages just as easily as they make calls. Pricing varies by country but generally, many SMS messages can be sent for one cent per message.