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Upcoming Discontinuation of SMS Backup Delivery

January 18, 2024 by joshua stein

Later this year, Pushover will be discontinuing our SMS Backup Delivery mechanism for Pushover for Teams subscribers receiving emergency-priority messages.

While only 6% of Pushover for Teams users are utilizing SMS Backup Delivery, we understand that it is an important failsafe for certain users. However, our mobile applications have gained functionality in recent years that makes SMS backup delivery less of a requirement, as we’ll detail below.


On April 1, 2024, our website will no longer allow new SMS numbers to be added to Pushover accounts but we will continue delivering to existing SMS numbers until July 1st.

On July 1, 2024, we will stop sending SMS messages altogether and will only retry delivery by push notification. Existing SMS phone numbers on file will be deleted.

Please note that if per-country restrictions detailed below are imposed before these dates, we may have to stop SMS delivery in those countries.

Why is SMS Backup Being Discontinued?

In the six years since Pushover for Teams launched with SMS Backup Delivery, mobile phone providers worldwide have greatly tightened restrictions on SMS delivery to combat spam and fraud. While mostly well-intentioned, these restrictions make it difficult and costly for small businesses like Pushover to send legitimate SMS messages to our customers who have opted into receiving them.

Many countries have also imposed restrictions on leasing local phone numbers (called “long codes”), requiring that we have a local presence in each of these countries where we want to use a local phone number. While not strictly necessary, we have tried to acquire local numbers in many countries where we have users so they don’t have to send a reply SMS to a number in another country which can be expensive.

Mobile phone providers and SMS services like the one we use are pushing companies to purchase “short codes” (5-6 digit numbers) for automated SMS delivery rather than the country-specific “long codes” we are currently using. Unfortunately the cost of acquiring and leasing a short code is extremely expensive and laborious, especially as carriers in each country where we want to deliver messages each impose large monthly fees which would greatly eclipse all of the revenue generated by our Pushover for Teams service as a whole.

Push Notification Enhancements

While SMS Backup Delivery has been useful in increasingly-rare situations where mobile data service is unavailable but mobile phone service is, the most popular use of our SMS Backup has been to bypass a device’s mute switch by creating a contact for our local phone number and setting it to be allowed to play sounds when the device is muted. In recent years, Pushover’s mobile apps for Android and iOS have gained the ability to do this without SMS delivery.

On Android, our app has the ability to play sounds for emergency-priority messages through the device’s alarm channel, just as an alarm clock application does. Our application can also be specifically permitted to bypass Do Not Disturb.

On iPhone and iPad, our application was granted a special entitlement by Apple to generate Critical Alerts which are notifications that bypass the device’s mute switch with a specified volume.


If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming removal of SMS Backup Delivery, please contact Pushover support.