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What is this technology we're talking about?

Today, technology is moving towards the future of the wireless web. Mobile devices such as palmtops, handhelds, and cellular phones are becoming all the rage. People want these devices to do everything from access their e-mail accounts, to utilize the Internet, to access personal and corporate information.

One type of service that is available is a technology called SMS (Short Messaging Service). SMS is the technology that allows text messages to be received and sent over mobile devices.

Why use SMS?

SMS is a very inexpensive method of communication. 160 characters take up as much room as a one-second voice call. Messages are delivered immediately (or when the phone is turned on). Like e-mail, they can also be reviewed or stored in your phone for as long as you wish. SMS messages can also be sent out to huge groups of people with the single press of a button.

SMS also allows for unified messaging. This is where SMS can take on a number of different message formats (including voice mail, e-mail and fax) and allows users to access them from their mobile device.

Is SMS really that popular?

Yes! Europeans send each other well over a billion messages a month. This fact may be hard to believe if you live in the United States, where SMS service is practically nonexistent.

There are a number of reasons why the SMS is slow to take off in the United States. The main reason is that the United States does not use the digital wireless interface standard (GSM—more on this in a moment) that is necessary for SMS to function. Although GSM is starting to grow in the United States, the change is slow.

How does a mobile device have enough room to store information?

Most mobile devices can be fitted with SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) cards. These are plastic cards that, when placed in the back of a mobile device, store various types of information.

Isn't writing messages on a mobile device (like a phone) difficult?

You might be thinking that typing on a miniature telephone keypad is hard, even for nimble little fingers. Well, most devices contain 'predictive input', a sort of software that allows the device to guess what you are writing and try to finish the word for you. Besides, most people abbreviate their words anyway. Unless you're not trying to write a novel on your phone you should have no problems.

Can my mobile device use SMS?

For a device to utilize SMS, it must be SMS-enabled. Also, the device must be connected to one of the GSM networks that support SMS. Check with your device supplier to determine whether a device is able to receive SMS messages.

What do you mean by 'SMS-enabled'?

SMS-enabled means that only devices with SMS technology built into them will be able to access and utilize SMS. Most mobile device manufactures such as Ericcson, Motorola, and Nokia offer SMS-enabled products.

What is GSM? What is a GSM Network?

GSM stands for Global Systems for Mobile Communication. SMS resides on GSM networks for SMS communication.

Back in the early 1980's, analog cellular telephone systems were growing rapidly in Europe. Each country started developing it's own system. These systems were incompatible with everyone else's equipment and operation. It was not a good situation. For one, mobile equipment was limited to limited to their national boundaries. Thus, markets were limited for each type of equipment.

The Europeans realized this early on, and created a group to propose a new, universal system. This new universal system became GSM. Eventually commercial services became available in the early 1990's and GSM networks have spread worldwide.

GSM is a digital system, which is what allows SMS features to exist. Most countries use the GSM standard—the United States is one of the few countries to favor use of CDMA and TDMA standards over GSM (though there are GSM networks throughout the US). CDMA and TDMA allow extremely limited SMS capabilities.

GSM allows for messages to be sent from point-to-point, or in a cell-broadcast mode (point-to-omnipoint).

So, is GSM to remain the standard for SMS communication?

Probably not.

The world requires more and more Internet functionality from their mobile devices. And GSM, in all its complexity, is having a hard time keeping up. GSM was never designed to service text information, let alone large amounts of text such that the wireless Internet would provide. Using GSM for anything more than SMS would become a slow and cumbersome method.

With that said, it seems that GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is being touted as the new best thing. GPRS would allow the sending of Internet information through mobile devices at a high speed.
Experts believe that GPRS will be capable of delivering information at a speed of up to 100,000 bits per second.

Currently, GSM can deliver information at a speed of 9,600 bits per second.

What's point-to-point?

A point-to-point SMS message is where a user sends a message to another subscriber in their service. Once their message is sent, an acknowledgement of receipt is provided to the sender.

What's cell-broadcast mode?

Cell­broadcast mode, or point-to-omnipoint, SMS messages are those such as traffic updates or news updates that are sent by services to multiple subscribed users within a given cell area.

Where can I find out more information about SMS?

If you've never tried SMS, I urge you to check it out. It's an incredibly practical, reliable, and affordable method of communication.

For more information about SMS, check out our site numerous articles and updates on the latest developments with SMS. Also, you can check out http://www.sendsmshere.com for great information about anything and everything happening within the GSM world today—including SMS and much more.


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Melissa Moreno


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