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Whence Does The SMS Come?

May 4, 2008
SMS is a communication protocol originally designed for short message communications between mobile phones. It has now greatly evolved not only in the aspect of the service's support, but also in the aspect of utilizing the medium.

SMS is a communications protocol that first allowed mobile phone users to send messages containing letters, numbers and selected characters to each other. It was originally associated with GSM phones that were released around 1985. Since the rise in popularity of the service, sending SMS is most often called text messaging or texting.

Most modern mobile phones using the GSM standard allow for text messages longer than 160 characters to be sent. These large content messages are known in the industry as concatenated SMS or multipart or segmented SMS because they are in reality being sent as segments of multiple messages.

Depending on the mobile phone model, the multiple messages are presented to the user as a series of segments, with each segment constituting a single message containing the appropriate segmentation information, or as one long message. The standard theoretically permits a maximum of six to eight segments.

Since the GSM, however, support for the service has expanded to include alternative service standards such as for Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks operating in North and South America, Australia, and some parts of Asia, and for General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks, and recently for Third Generation (3G) Technology, all allowing for greater message size.

Strictly speaking, SMS is a store-and-forward protocol and this is how a message delivery or failure can be confirmed to a message sender. This means that text messages sent via SMS do not reach the recipient directly when the sender generates them.

Messages from the sender are sent to the Short Message Service Centre (SMSC) of the SMS service provider. The SMSC stores and forwards the messages to the recipient. When the recipient is unreachable, the SMSC queues the messages for a later forwarding, although a "forward and forget" option may be available with some SMSCs where transmission is tried only once.

The service provider regulates SMS traffic to and from the SMSC through an SMS gateway. The SMS gateway is also used by different SMSCs in case messages are sent to-and-from different SMS providers. The SMS gateway also connects SMS platform with instant messaging (IM) services, the worldwide web, computers, and even fixed telephones.

SMS messaging may actually be done from any laptop or desktop computer, through the Internet, to any mobile phone. Some SMS messaging services are even being offered online free of charge. These are normally done through websites that ask for the recipient's number and the message. The site itself generates the message and sends it like an Internet based mobile phone. A lot of these sites are operating free of charge. These options are even being offered as additional applications that can be added to MySpace profiles, websites, or blogs.

The widespread use of SMS today is a choice made based on convenience and simplicity, given the popularity of mobile phones. Sending text messages are an easy and casual way to communicate unlike the relatively time and attention consuming phone call because text messages can be sent even when someone is busy. This practice is so widespread that it has generated an income of over 80 billion dollars in 2006.
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