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Text Messaging FAQs

Why was my text message cutoff?

Complete messages are sent to the cell phone companies. But text messages are limited to 160 characters, so longer messages get truncated. Some cell companies split longer messages into multiple parts, but fewer are doing that now. For example, Verizon used to cut them up but now stops when they hit 160 (including some header info you might not see). We have reduced non-essential information in the text messages to get more information to you. If a message is truncated, check your email version or an on-line source for the complete message.

Why was my text message late?

FlashAlert messages are sent as emails to both email and cell phone text addresses. They leave the FlashAlert server within a few minutes of posting by a school district or other organization.

Once dispatched, they are subject to delays while traveling the Internet to your Internet Service Provider or cell carrier, such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. Emails are not simply dropped into the mail. Each message must be acknowledged by the receiving mail server before it is handed over.

Once your carrier accepts your message, they may be spam filtered and then queued for dispatch. Since these messages enter cell systems as emails, rather than a single text sent from another phone, the spam filtering may be rigorous. While few messages are outright deleted, acceptance of many can be delayed by minutes or even hours, depending on time of day and message backlog.

For example, here is a log report for a message that was posted to FlashAlert at 5:17 am on March 1, 2011. It was on the seventh delivery attempt that AT&T accepted and passed along the message:

5:17 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=0.07, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

5:23 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=350, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

5:33 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=966, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

5:53 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=2151, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

6:33 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=4552, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

7:41 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=none, delay=8750, status=deferred (lost connection with mx.cingularme.com)

8:53 am <971255XXXX@txt.att.net>, relay=mx.cingularme.com, delay=12953, status=sent (250 Message received)

The FlashAlert server now deletes messages that have not been accepted by their cell company after 90 minutes. Use text messages as an advisory only, since we cannot control how quickly the cell companies pass them along.

Why are text messages discouraged?

Due to cell phone companies difficulties in delivering messages quickly, text messages have become a major problem and generate many complaints. With the availability of the new Messenger phone app, we are shifting away from texts and encouraging subscribers to use the app. FlashAlert no longer accepts text message addresses, although if you must use a text address, you can enter it manually as an email address. Note that support is not available for text messages.

FlashAlert Messenger is a free iOS/Android app that uses “push notification” to deliver emergency messages. Push notification sends short messages over the Internet outside of the text message system, so delivery is nearly instant and recipients incur no per-message charges. You’ll find FlashAlert Messenger in the iTunes store and Android Play.

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