What is the Short Message Service (SMS) ?

Do you know what it is and how it works the Short Message Service on Mobile Phones?

As usual, if your not a Geek and want to be in touch with everybody as quick as the speed light? this article is for your.

Maybe this is one of the must used service on Mobile Phones, also called as “Messages” or “Text Message“, lets start with a brief description on how it works, the common uses and finish with the service evolution.


Technical point of view.

I won’t explain the detailed technical operation, however I have to mention what it is a Radio Base Station (RBS). The RBS is the Antenna Towers mounted on a big pole, building roof or even on the house roof, the main function is to cover a geographical area with a Cellular Radio Signal to establish the communication with mobile phones. From the signaling point of view, the RBS is in charge to identify the Mobile Phones, transmit the Phone Calls and Exchange the Shorts Message.


The SMS.

sms   This service works similar like a Mobile Phone call and up today all the devices support the service, just need to access the option “Message“, some phones has a submenu where select “Text” or “SMS” is need it. We need to define a receiver or Contact Destination, where the identify is the mobile phone number, now the text area accept letters, symbols and numbers, here we can write the message and is limited to 160 characters. Then the phone will encapsulate the message just like a packet box with the labels From and To, the RBS will receive and check the destination number to start the forwarding message up to the destination user, the destination phone will notify the user the message arrived with a short tone and visual notify.

This service is not like a chat, because is not in real time, what does it mean? If the destination phone is unreachable the message will be storage on the Service Provider Network until the message is allowed to deliver. Also we have to consider the delays between the Mobile Network Elements and if the Sender has credit to send message too.

The good news is that every message for sure will reach its destination. Also the time used between the RBS and the Phone to send or receive a Message are less than second, that’s why is cheaper than a Mobile Phone call just to say “The customer dinner was cancel” to all your staff.


The Multimedia Message Service.

This was the followed development, due the integration of Music Players, Cameras and Video recorders, it was essential to design an easy way to share between the Youngers (the common service Users) the multimedia files. By that the Multimedia Message Service comes up allowing to send an attached file with the Text Message, obviously it costo little bit more but the exchange was quickly.


The Evolution into Data Services.

smsThe days continues and Internet or Data Service was introduced as the new way to access the Internet everywhere. This service I will describe in another post, but the Internet access and the Apple iPhone market introduction allows the Real Time Text Message Exchange with the adoption of Mobile Apps to do so. Now is possible to use multiple Apps to have a real time Chatting and files sharing throughout the Internet link and the service grow as free of charge! How is that? Just like the link between the RBS and Phone to have a call, now exist a second link dedicated to Data or Internet Service, normally charged as Data Transfer Rate and considering just send text the exchanged number of bits are very low.

Now is the turn of Mobile Apps, up today the most used Text Message app is Whatsapp, helped with the Phone Number to identify every user, is possible to send Text and Files through Internet and to any mobile device. The Facebook app allows you to chat with friends and also developed its own Messaging App. Twitter is another evolution of message with its 140 characters limited text, but your message will broadcasted with all your followers.


Common uses of messaging.

Miniature business team having a coffee break

Due the short time to send and deliver a message, its better to text that you are safe after an earthquake than try to make a phone call, because everybody will try to call each others. I use ti very often during a discussions meetings where I have to defend my proposal and need to resolve complicate questions, it allows me to ask my experts no matter where are they located and retrieve a quick answer. For a quick and short meetings, you can take a photo of your notes and share with the attendees immediately. The banks use this service to notify any account charge. Also marketing newsletters will arrive on this way.


Tell us your best practice or how you use the SMS, everyday we lear something new.

Beto Garcia

Telecom consultant & sales engineer, Blogger contributor @Cisco & @TiTiApps. Mobile Apps business initiator. Experienced Engineer with more than 10 years on Service Providers Networks.

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