Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Syniverse’s Dominance Over SMS Routing Introduces Single Points of Failure in U.S. Telecom Infrastructure

Jacob Kastrenakes, the Verge:

On November 7th, tens of thousands of people across the US woke up to strange text messages from friends and loved ones, occasionally from people who were no longer in their lives, like an ex-boyfriend or a best friend who had recently died. The messages had actually been sent months earlier, on Valentine’s Day, but had been frozen in place by a glitched server and were only shot out when the system was finally fixed nine months later, in the middle of the night.


AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint currently use Syniverse to route text messages to people on other networks, according to data available to Tyntec, a smaller messaging services company that spoke with The Verge. T-Mobile confirmed that it uses Syniverse, AT&T declined to comment, and Sprint did not respond to a request for comment. Verizon confirmed that it uses a competitor, SAP.


But for years, industry figures have been sounding the alarm about just such a scenario. The very same Valentine’s Day that the SMS server froze up, a mobile services executive named Thorsten Trapp had flown into Washington to warn lawmakers about Syniverse’s dominance in messaging and other carrier services. He came armed with a series of slide decks laying out Syniverse’s dominance in SMS and MMS messaging, as well as in providing critical services for 2G, 3G, and roaming.

“This thing is monopolized. You have literally only one provider who makes sense in the messaging world,” says Trapp, the chief technology officer of Tyntec. “No innovation, no nothing.” His company is currently suing Syniverse for alleged anticompetitive behavior.

Imagine a parallel universe where antitrust law still had teeth.