You may have been using it for a long time, but maybe you call it “texting”. Technically, it is known as SMS. But, what is SMS?
Short Messaging Service (SMS) provides the capability to send and receive text messages between mobile telephones over cellular networks. It was once used by carriers to send notifications of new voice messages down to smart cell phones, but SMS is now almost universally used by cellular subscribers around the world as a two-way personal messaging medium. It was created as part of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) Phase 1 standard.
The first short message was sent in December 1992 from a PC to a mobile phone on the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom. AT&T Wireless was the first national carrier to bring SMS to the United States.
The “S” or “short” part of SMS refers to the maximum size of the text message. With SMS, subscribers can send up to 160 characters of text when Latin letters, numbers or symbols are used, and 70 characters when non-Latin letters, numbers or symbols, such as Arabic or Chinese are used.
How Does SMS Messaging Work?
According to the website “How Stuff Works,” even when you are not talking on your cell phone, the phone is continuously forwarding and receiving data. Your phone is communicating with a cell phone tower over a pathway called a control channel. This constant chatter between cell phone and tower is so that the cell phone system knows which cell your phone is in so that it can change cells as you move around. Every so often, your phone and the tower will exchange a packet of information that lets both the cell phone system and the cell phone know that everything is okay.
Your phone also uses the control channel for call setup. When someone tries to call you the tower sends your phone a message over the control channel that tells your phone to play its ringtone. The tower also gives your phone a pair of voice channel frequencies to use for the call.
The control channel also supports the passageway for SMS communications. When a friend texts you an SMS message, the message runs through the SMSC which then sends it to the tower. The tower then delivers the message to your cell phone as a small package of data on the control station. In the same way when you send a message, your phone sends it to the tower via the control station and it then goes from the tower to the SMSC and from there to its target.
In the same way instant messaging (IM) on the Internet has become a standard method of communication among U.S. teenagers. SMS will provide a choice that will grow the total messaging market. In some cases it will replace voice traffic and IM, as desktop-to-desktop IM is not conducive to mobility. Even desktop-to-mobile IM inhibits mobility because a cellular subscriber using a limited screen and keyboard cannot keep up with messaging traffic generated by a full-featured desktop system. Unlike SMS, IM clients operating on wireless devices have found them complex, cumbersome, and difficult to use.
==== About the Author ====
Oliver Haas is the creator of www.smssheep.com, a website that provides free SMS services internationally, with no registration requirements.