Our USSD Gateway

Over the last several years we have been hard at work behind the scenes, working with mobile networks, partners and technology enablers to bring USSD into our mobile messaging options; joining our ever popular carrier grade Bulk SMS and HLR Lookup Gateway connections.

This introduction occurred because of two main reasons: i) demand to use this tech from our clients and ii) we realise the future potential of this powerful ‘session’ based messaging technology.

USSD seems to have been forgotten among the more obvious technologies, namely SMS, which is a shame considering its design and build is perfect for many service options, from mobile payments through to interactive chat.

Overlooking USSD?

USSD is a communication protocol that works across the mobile GSM networks.

It is a real-time messaging option similar to SMS, where it sends the message (MT) utilising the signaling channel. The most notable difference from SMS which uses a ‘store and forward’ message flow is that with USSD it works on a ‘session’ based connection.

Advantages of USSD (V’s SMS)

USSD has many key advantages as a mobile messaging option:

1. USSD provides cost effective messaging worldwide.
2. USSD allows messages to take place during a call.
3. USSD does not incur charges for roaming.
4. USSD works with interactive menus as well as notifications (nSMS).
5. USSD is much faster then other messaging options, as it is session based – always having an active connection.
6. USSD is not mobile software or SIM based. i.e. it can run without both. Just requiring a connection to the the GSM network.

There are two types of options:

  • Push

Network pushed USSD service in which the network (MSC, VLR and / or HLR) sends the USSD message toward mobile subscriber.

  • Pull

Mobile Subscriber requested USSD with user sending a USSD message towards the Gateway. i.e. using USSD Short Codes. e.g. *100

New Types of Services using USSD

USSD is gaining more popularity for interactive menu driven services like mobile banking, roaming with prepaid service, callback services, mobile chat, software upgrades, etc.

Alongside the above, here is a list of some popular active service types using USSD:

‘Push’ services (i.e. one way nSMS – Notifications)

  • Voting and polling
  • Announcements

‘Pull’ based services like informational services (i.e. request using USSD Shortcodes)

  • News, Sports updates
  • Currency updates
  • Ticket Purchases being a very common use of USSD.
  • Call centres using USSD (replacing IVR (Voice Support)).

Disadvantages of using USSD for your Messaging

  • USSD can resource heavy; meaning increased load on the channels between the MSC and the HLR. However, these resources are more efficiently utilised in USSD than to SMS which means increased traffic on the channels between the MSCs and the HLR.
  • No delivery reports are provided with USSD unlike with SMS.


The future of USSD Messaging?
New innovative services are starting to gain popularity across social networking, USSD gaming and gambling and other forms of mobile entertainment.

USSD has large growth potential especially across the link between mobile billing; that is to make a mobile transaction when in a USSD session, quickly and securely.

Understanding the limits of IVR (voice) and SMS is important. USSD offers so much to look at with its speed and flexibility, it is not to be overlooked anymore.

You can start to use this innovative messaging offering by connecting to our USSD Gateway.

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