Short Message Service (SMS)

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SMS graphic

Short Message Service (SMS)

SMS is the acronym for Short Message Service and is also commonly referred to as a "text message". With a SMS, you can send a message of up to 160 characters to another cellphone or smartphone. Longer messages will automatically be split up into several parts.

The "short" part refers to the maximum size of a text message: 160 characters (letters, numbers or symbols in the Latin alphabet). For other alphabets, such as Chinese, the maximum SMS size is 70 characters.

SMS was created during the late 1980s to work with a digital technology called GSM (global system for mobile communications), which formed the foundation for modern cell phones. Norwegian engineers who invented SMS wanted a simple messaging system that worked when users' mobile phones were turned off or out of signal range from a tower. Most sources agree that the first SMS message was sent in the United Kingdom in 1992.

In 2010, SMS was the most widely used data application,with an estimated 3.5 billion active users, or about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers.

SMS is a store-and-forward service, meaning that when you send a text message to a friend, the message does not go directly to your friend's cell phone. The advantage of this method is that your friend's cell phone doesn't have to be active or in range for you to send a message. The message is stored in the SMSC (for days if necessary) until your friend turns his cell phone on or moves into range, at which point the message is delivered. The message will remain stored on your friend's SIM card until he deletes it.

Because SMS doesn't overload the network as much as phone calls, SMS is frequently used by TV shows to let viewers vote on a poll topic or for a contestant.

Most wireless plans charge for a certain number of text messages per month sent by the user. Some only charge for user-originated messages, while others charge for incoming messages as well. Speedy SMS message delivery is not guaranteed. During periods of high traffic, it might be minutes or even hours before a message reaches your friend.

Alternative messaging services allow for more elaborate types of messages. With EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), you can send formatted text, sound effects, small pictures and icons. MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) allows you to send animations, audio and video files in addition to text. If your mobile phone is EMS- or MMS-enabled, you can use these standards just as you would SMS. However, the cost per message will be higher.

Apps for Sending SMS to Groups

You may find one or more of the following apps effective for sending SMS to a group:

  1. Group SMS for Apple iPhone
    Send an SMS text message to a group of contacts. These groups can be small or very large (Bulk SMS) and send to tens, hundreds or thousands of contacts. You can also send email to groups. Group SMS is ideal when you need to send the same message to any number of contacts. Seller: Alco Blom
  2. Group SMS and Email free for Apple iPhone
    Group SMS and Email helps you to manage groups in your address book directly from your iPhone. With just a ‘Tap’, you can SMS / Email to all your group members at one time.It’s the easiest and fastest way to send out group SMS. Seller: Shan Shan Liu
  3. Text 2 Group Pro for Apple iPhone
    Save your own contact groups. Instantly send group text / iMessage. Instantly send group email. Add attachments easily Seller: Seller: Yoni Tserruya
  4. WhatsApp
    WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and yes, those phones can all message each other! Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.