SMS Technology

This page provides a brief explanation for you on the basics of the SMS technology along with a fact sheet, as well as links to pages detailing the technology.

The SMS technology was created by GSM pioneers in Europe. The standardization process is led by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The SMS technology was created to provide an infrastructure for the transportation of short messages containing a maximum of 140 bytes (8 bit objects) of useful data in mobile telecommunication networks. The transportation is done in the GSM signaling path in traditional GSM networks, and as GPRS packets in GPRS networks. Messages are composed using the PDU specification. An SMS is a binary string containing all the necessary information to form the message header needed for transportation and the message body containing the payload. The basic addressing scheme of SMS messages are mobile telephone numbers called MSISDN.

What is SMS Technology?

SMS technology is what enables SMS messaging systems to send and receive short text messages between devices and applications.

Standard: GSM (ETS 03.40)
Transport technology: GSM Signaling Path, GPRS
Transport protocol: Short Message Protocol
Addressing scheme: MSISDN
Message description language: SMS PDU
User data length: 140 byte (Concatenated messages can exceed this size)
Basic character set: 7-bit SMS, 8-bit SMS, UCS2

On the Basic Concepts page you can read about the roles of the different SMS messaging entities, illustrated with figures depicting SMS messaging using GSM and IP connection.

On the IP SMS technology page you can read about the convenience of connecting to the Short Message Service Center over the Internet, and you are provided with links to pages detailing the most common IP SMS protocols (Figure 1).

ip sms gateway
Figure 1 - SMS sending over the Internet

On the GSM SMS Technology page you can read about SMS messaging using a GSM device (modem or phone), and you can find links to pages detailing the different ways of connecting the GSM device to the computer.

On the SMS Connection page you can learn about the two connection possibilities that allow to connect to the mobile network. The detailed system architecture diagrams also demonstrate the solutions.

On USSD basics page you will find the basic information on USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Services Data) to be familiar with this service. A link to USSD message types is also available in the article.

On GSM modem vs IP SMS page you will be provided with detailed information on the differences between GSM modem connectivity ans IP SMS connectivity to help you make a selection from them.


Which standardization body is responsible for the SMS standard?

The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is the standardization body responsible for the development and maintenance of the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and SMS (Short Message Service) standards. These standards were initially developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and later transitioned to 3GPP, which continues to oversee their evolution and implementation.

Why use SMS?

SMS (Short Message Service) is a straightforward and efficient means of communication. It allows applications to directly transmit messages to mobile devices using just a telephone number and the message text. Receiving SMS messages is equally simple for users. Whether it’s gathering feedback, conducting surveys, or providing updates, SMS provides a convenient channel for engaging with recipients. In summary, SMS offers a concise and accessible way to exchange information, making it a valuable tool in mobile communication.

What makes SMS technology so successful?

It's simplicity and it's availability.

SMS is incredibly straightforward. It requires only two essential components: a phone number and a message text. This minimalistic approach to communication resonates with users worldwide. When it comes to written communication, it’s hard to imagine providing any less information than an SMS. SMS is universally accessible across all mobile networks. Whether you’re using a basic feature phone or a high-end smartphone, SMS remains a reliable means of communication. Its widespread availability ensures that people can connect regardless of their device or location.

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