Okay, so I embarked on a really ambitious project of accumulating the text messaging email domains for almost any phone carrier anyone’s ever heard of these days. It took me the greater part of the weekend. Because it took my weekend and tons of effort, I don’t want to just give it away, at least in a fully functional form that others can just rip off and use for their own profit motives without remuneration to me.
I do, however, want to let people sample the effectiveness of it, and make it so the average joe can take advantage of it without letting big business get rich off it. I like providing things for free to the little guy, to let them catch up and become the big guy someday, not to mention it’s great to let my services speak for themselves.
Now the question arises as follows: What’s the most useful way to let people send text messages, but make it so others can’t abuse my services for things like mobile spam, or high volume business use? Also of note is number portability. This is the huge problem going forward, as people port their numbers around, I don’t know what carrier a specific number is on anymore. The only place this exists is in the SS7 LIDB, which I don’t have access to (though if I found a way, I’d happily pay reasonable rates to get access to it). This service, when I finish coding it, will be useful to a great majority of the population, because a huge percentage of people do not port their numbers. But there’s going to be a measurable percentage of the population who find themselves unable to get messages from my free users and subscribers because they ported their number. I don’t want to place anyone in a digital ghetto, but I have no real good way to go about checking for this. 🙁
So I’m looking for suggestions to find out what carrier someone may have on the per-number level (even if not free, so long as I can access it using standard PC hardware running Linux – I’m not afraid of writing my own software to query a database if the communications specs are open), or should I let people come to my site and inform me they switched carriers (which seems like a really crappy way of doing this). I’ve considered getting another sim and letting people deliver messages over the real cell phone networks on request, and basically passing the billing through with markup. But that also seems silly. Why does text messaging have to be such a corundrum? I mean, seriously. Ugh. If you silly cell networks would make it easier on us computer folk, we promise we will help you make more money off your subscribers! They want services we provide. Help them get to us using ways you can bill them for.
I’m just going to stop now and ask for suggestions before I get off on a huge rant about the ridiculousness that the entire PSTN side of the telecommunications industry has about “proprietary data” and all that jazz. To protect your customer data is one thing, to make it harder for people to use services YOU BILL FOR is yet another thing entirely. I have no problems signing up to all kinds of weird NDAs and other encumbering documents to protect the data, just don’t make it any harder on us. Bill the customer, not us. If you bill us both for a service we all know costs almost nothing to provide, the people, us and your customers, will simply find a way to communicate without you, you dig?