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SMS – What is SMS | Working | SMS and MMS | Pros & Cons

SMS stands for short message service, and is one of the most popularly used data applications with an estimated 3.5 billion active users. It is a communication protocol that is used for the exchange of text messages between mobile devices. A user can send SMS via smartphone, any other mobile device or computer system equipped with the web, etc. The maximum length that a text message can be sent is 160 alpha-numeric characters. Short Message Service facility is provided by all the telecommunication companies.

Short Message Service

History of Short Message Service

The facility of text message was first added to the mobile devices in the year 1980. In the year 1982, the approval was given for the action plan GSM (Global system for Mobile Communication) for providing the services available to public data networks also to the mobile systems. As per this plan, the exchange of text messages was allowed either through mobile stations or via handling stations. The concept of SMS was developed in Franco-German co-operation by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Gilbert in the year 1984.

To use telephone optimizer systems and to transport messages by making use of signaling paths, was the main idea behind the SMS concept. As said above, the 160 alpha-numeric characters were also decided by Friedhelm Hillebrand.

Advantages of Short Message Service

  • Short Message Service is reliable platform for sending information that ensures a guaranteed delivery of the information.
  • When compared to phone call, it has a separate form of sending information.
  • To send SMS, there is no need of internet connection and it is automatically provided to all the mobile devices.
  • The user can save or delete the conversations as and when he needs them.
  • SMS does not require any app to download as it is already provided in all the mobile devices.

Disadvantages of Short Message Service

  • It has the limit of 160 characters per text message.
  • Once the message is sent, there is no chance to delete/unsend.
  • Short Message Service facility is not free of cost as one has to pay to send the message.
  • SMS can be misunderstood sometimes as there is a lack of expressions, eye contact and body language.
  • The sender expects to read and respond quickly or immediately failing which leads to frustration or anger.
  • Emotionally sensitive messages are not suitable for texting as SMS is designed for short messages.

Difference between SMS and MMS

Difference between SMS and MMS

A huge difference between SMS and MMS is that SMS is capable of only text transactions while MMS provides multimedia service exchange on a supported device like images, videos, audios etc. along with transmitting the text. In SMS, the text character is limited to 160 alpha-numeric while MMS can extend up to 1600 character in length.

Also, SMS is more cost effective and data efficient while MMS is more expensive than sending SMS even if the message does not contain multimedia content. Along with this, most of the carriers have lower send volume limits for MMS messages as they are always larger than SMS and hence, they are not as fast as SMS. MMS are more capable than SMS as it is not as efficient for sending text -only messages as SMS.

Working of Short Message Service

Initially, SMS transmits the information via standard cellular connection. To send text messages, there is no need of internet connection and that is the reason why SMS messages are capable enough to transmit only the text.

Working-of-Short Message Service

The process takes following steps:

  1. once a user sends an SMS message, first it gets transmitted from the sending device to nearest cell tower.
  2. Next step is cell tower passes the message to the SMS Centre (SMSC).
  3. Then the SMSC forwards the SMS message to a cell tower which is near to the receiving device.
  4. Finally, that tower sends the message to the recipient’s device.

All this process can be achieved with the help of same cellular infrastructure that cell phones use for phone calls. As long as there is a cell service, no internet connection is required. At the same time, using this established cellular network is why SMS messages are compatible with many other devices.

Short Message Service is designed for voice communication and which is why most carriers have limits on how many SMS messages can be sent at a time. Without the sending limits, Short Message Service center’s can get backed up which may cause delay in message transmission. Though it has the limitations, SMS is still an excellent channel for all sorts of business communication.

When to Choose SMS or MMS?

The basic element to determine when a user should use SMS or MMS is based on the type of content that a user need to include in the message. If the content is other than text then the user should prefer MMS and if the goal is just with the text, then SMS is the better option. Below are few instances to illustrate to the point –

Education Sector


Education Section is a two-way communication where both the end users can rely upon. So, SMS is the best option where teachers can send messages regarding the exam schedule or any important information and students can ask any query. One can send SMS via mobile phones to mobile phones, from a computer to mobile phones and vice-versa.

Outreach of Market


One of the important aspects in the business. Both SMS and MMS will work as the sender can send quick, personalized messages which are quick to read. Whenever there is a product launch, sending coupons, virtual gifts then, the sender can use MMS. However, a simple text message can also be effective, mainly if the sender is looking for someone to click-through a link.

Taking Orders

Taking Orders
Taking Orders

Short Message Service is one of the efficient ways to take orders via text. It enables the customers to place their orders by sending messages. It is a very convenient and seamless ordering process which undoubtly has increased volumes of orders for the businesses that has implemented them.

Customer Support


It is an outstanding way to increase the customer support channels. Most of the customer support issues can be easily resolved by text messages which can reduce the time spent on writing a mail response. Faster the response time, better customer satisfaction. The user can collect the information about the customer’s issues and pass that information to customer service representative who resolves the issue after speaking over the phone or email which ever is faster and easier.

Normally, it is best to choose Short Message Service for customer support to improve the customer experience which makes the customer service team’s life easier.

Overall, Short Message Service languages are convenient and can type faster. It is a trend to use Short Message Service  to communicate with others. Hence many people tend to use mainly Short Message Service languages. Unfortunately, SMS may cause misunderstanding and decrease the standard in speaking English and writing as well. It may also tend to ruin the impression of Short Message Service languages if the user uses them in an inappropriate situation.

Therefore, we should not over use SMS languages, and be aware of inappropriate usage of the Short Message Service messages.

Read Also:
Video Calls – What are Video Calls | Working | Future | Pros & Cons
Facetime – Working, Features, How to use Android With Facetime
Chakrasthitha is a B.E (Medical Electronics) and has work experience in MatLab and Lab View Software as Design Engineer at BCS innovations and Manipal hospital as Biomedical Engineer. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.


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