by October 12, 2002 0 comments

When cellular operators started business, they offered SMS as a free service to attract customers. Today, however, it’s become so popular that a major chunk of revenues for the operators come from SMS. The Short Message Service (the full-form is not that short!) is the happening thing in communication today, being used by people of all ages to send simple 160 character messages. However, there’s a lot more you can do with SMS than that. 

Send > SMS Sent…What happens next?

The Short Message Center (SMC) receives messages from handsets and does the necessary forwarding. After receiving the message, it interacts with the Home Location Register (HLR) to check the current status of the cellphone that the message was sent to. HLR is the main database that holds the subscription profile and routing information of every subscriber. After finding the location, the message passes to the Mobile Switching Center (MSC), which switches the connections between the mobile cells. A Visitor Location Register (VLR), which corresponds to every MSC, stores information about the mobile identification and location. After switching, the message gets passed to the Base Station System (BSS). The BSS then sends the SMS to the receiving handset. The message gets passed through signaling channels, so that your handset can receive the SMS even in the middle of a voice or data call.

Short Entity/Like mobile phones
SMC: Short Message Center HLR: Home Location Register
MSC: Mobile Station Center VLR: Visitor Location Register
BSS: Base Station System

Chat on the move
Chat has expanded from being just PC-based to cellphone based. Similar to Web-based chat (where you have a chat room and users in the room, with public and private messages passing across), SMS chat lets you chat in a room/community of people.

The first short message was sent in UK on
December 1992 from a PC to a mobile phone on the
Vodafone GSM network
Last Diwali, Hutchison-Essar (now Hutch)

Delhi, handled 300,000 messages!
The number
was even phenomenal on New
Year’s Eve, when most of the cellular networks in
India saw at least 300% jump in SMS traffic! extended its desktop-based Yahoo Messenger to cellphones a while ago. Using this, you can log onto your Yahoo Messenger even while you are away from your PC. To log onto your Yahoo Messenger, send the following message (without quotes), “In YahooID Password”, to the number 8242. You will get a reply with your online contact list displayed. Now, to send a message to any contact, type “to ID Message” and again send it to 8242. To get your list of contacts at any time, send “get’ to the same number. To logout, simply send “out” to the same number. Once enabled, others will see a message, “I’m on SMS”, against your name in their buddy

A message saying “I’m on SMS” appears against your nick on your friends’ buddy lists, so that they know that you are checking messages on your cellphone

Another interesting feature, depending upon your handset, is Group SMS, or sending the same message to multiple users. This function is normally found in the message sending options. For the latest Nokia phones, after you have composed your message, you get a “Send to many” option. This works great if you have to forward a joke to all your friends, or send an important announcement to all managers of your company. Of course, you have to pay for the number of users you send a message to. 

Send and receive e-mail
If you did not know already, your cellphone is capable of sending and receiving e-mail, too. This service uses the same channels as regular SMS. All cellphones have an e-mail id, which is of the form
your_number@servicer_provider_email_domain. For example, a Hutch phone subscriber in Delhi would have an e-mail id as (or for an Airtel connection). Anyone connected to the Internet, therefore, can send you an sms from his mail client. You can also send an e-mail from your cellphone. The format and number to which it has to be sent varies for different operators. For Hutch Delhi, for instance, you have to send a message to 121882 in the following format: MAIL <receipient’s_mail_id> <message>. For Airtel Delhi, you need to type the recipient’s e-mail id followed by the message and send it to the number 600. The message is delivered through the service provider’s e-mail gateway to the recipient’s mailbox.

E-mail id formats for popular services in India
If you’re connected to the Internet, and you want to send an sms through your mail client, then here are the e-mail id formats of some cellular service providers.
Airtel, Delhi:
Hutch, Delhi:
BPL Mobile, Mumbai:
Airtel, Mumbai: about to start
Orange, Mumbai: about to start 
Dolphin, Mumbai: about to start

The future has a lot in store for sms, such as the ability to send pictures, melodies and animation along with text using a technology called Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS). Another similar technology is Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), which will require a lot of changes to a service provider’s network. 

PCQ Labs

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