The text messaging service used by schools complains about fees charged by Bell, Rogers



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Two of Canada's largest mobile phone services are being targeted by a social media campaign launched by Remind.com, a San Francisco-based company that offers a free two-way text messaging service for teachers, students and parents.

Remember to call your Canadian users – almost one million individuals, according to the company – to pressure Rogers and Bell to reverse a recent price increase that makes Remind's text messaging service unprofitable in this country.

"As of January 28, parents and students in the Canadian classes who normally receive texts from Remind will no longer receive messages if they have wireless plans with Rogers, Bell or their respective subsidiaries," the company says.

He continues to urge users to contact Bell and Rogers through social media to ask them to repeat the fee.

The free version of the Remind application has many uses, including group notification of tasks, times, or emergencies, as well as bi-directional communications between teachers, students, and parents.

Rogers and Bell say they do not have a direct contractual relationship with Remind – which accesses their networks indirectly through two intermediary companies – but are willing to discuss a compromise.

"We know how important it is for educators and parents to stay connected," Rogers spokeswoman Sarah Schmidt said in an e-mailed statement.

"Last year we got in touch and made every effort to work out a more than fair deal with them that would meet their SMS needs on our network. Unfortunately, they were not satisfied."

Charging an intermediary company

Bell spokesman Nathan Gibson said in an e-mail that Bell does not charge customers directly or remember to send or receive text messages on their cell phones.

But Bell began charging for an intermediary company, called Syniverse, a "very nominal fee" for every message delivered on its network starting December 1 in response to a larger volume of spam text messages.

"We were contacted by Remind for the first time last week about the increased costs they are facing. We are talking to them and Syniverse about what can be done to address their concerns."

Syniverse is an intermediary that bridges the gap between the world's wireless networks. In this case, he has relations with Bell, Rogers and Twilio, another intermediary used by Remind.

None of the company representatives would disclose the message fees involved.

Remember you have warned your Canadian users that the service will no longer work in Canada. (CBC)

But Remind's chief executive Brian Gray said his annual costs would jump from "tens of thousands of dollars" to "hundreds of thousands of dollars," and the increase is unsustainable for the company at this stage of development.

Gray said Remind did not use its platform as a method to distribute advertising and its revenue comes from the sale of a large-scale version of the service for schools and districts, a practice launched in January 2017 in the United States.

"In the long term, our plan would be to bring this to Canada and other markets, but we have not gotten there yet," Gray said.

Meanwhile, Remind Canada's strategy is to provide a free version of its service to teachers, who then spread the word to students, parents, and eventually school administrators.

"This is why this movement of Rogers and Bell is also problematic. Basically, it happens at a time when everything we are providing to Canada – educators, students and parents – is a free version of our service."

"Our business model is really about building more benefits and features on our communication platform that allows us to sell a paid version … that connects to what's called school information systems," Gray said.

Gray said he is looking for alternative methods to remember to reach users in Canada but said it would be better to stay with Bell and Rogers given the number of teachers, students and parents who use their services.

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