How Does SMS Work?

How Does SMS Work?

Cellphones are not really that new anymore, they have been around for a long time and new models are being released weekly, producing something more advanced and capable every single time. SMS stands for short messaging service and it is when a text message is sent over a wireless phone system. The message then appears on the recipient’s screen of their cell phone. Normally text messages can go up to 160 characters but that is for a 1 page SMS, you can go to more characters but it is going to cost for every SMS you send. For example, if you send a SMS that has 480 characters, you will be charged for 3 SMS’.

Sending or receiving text messages requires no phone calls and when you receive a SMS, you will not be charged, only the person who sends the SMS will be charged. You can even receive messages while you are on a call; it has no interference with your phone calls at all. SMS has been around for about 16 years now and it is frequently used in Asia and Europe, but now it also big in North America. Text messages can be sent all over the world, as long as there is reception. It has to be associated with a GPRS wireless network.

There are 8 steps the SMS needs to go through:

  • it first gets presented to your wireless service provider’s SMS center
  • Once it has been internally processed, the centre sends through an appeal to the home location register, and gets the routing information for the receiver of the SMS.
  • The SMS centre then sends the text to the MSC (mobile switching centre)
  • The MSC then saves the receivers information from the VLR (visitor location register) and, if necessary, continues with an authentication operation
  • The MSC then sends the text to a mobile server
  • If the receiver of the text has a VisorPhone or a Treo, the text is put on the SIM card until the message is picked up by the handheld and conveys it to the internal memory of the unit.
  • The MSC then returns the result of the forward short operation to the SMS centre.
  • The SMS centre then sends a delivery report to the sender (optional)

The message of the SMS is not the only information that is being conveyed, although, the only part the recipient sees is the message itself, the elements of a full SMS transaction are:

  • Header (this identifies the type of message to be sent)
  • Service Centre Timestamp
  • The phone number of the sender
  • Protocol identifier
  • Data coding scheme
  • The length of the message
  • The message itself

So there is actually a lot a text SMS has to go through before it gets to the recipient, and it is amazing when you think of how quickly the message gets delivered, but it has to go through all of that first. Modern day technology is unbelievable!

The Messaging Centre offers everything you need to setup a browser-based SMS messaging facility.


Please feel free to look at more useful information about SMS here.

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