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Demystify SMS, MMS, short-codes and long-codes with!

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On a constantly evolving world, with emerging markets and technologies, as well as with myriads of ways to connect with people around the globe, businesses are the object of constant reinvention on themselves in order to maintain on top of their game, this in parallel with home users being offered with lots of better and reliable options to communicate with each other; it is then crucial to have the right tool in order to obtain a specific outcome. Let’s take the veil away from a few concepts that have been around for a while, which once you learn to lever properly, will allow you to have a better grasp on the options available out there for you.

What exactly is SMS?

It is an acronym and it stands for Short Message Service, basically, a form of sending short text message from one end to the other, it’s been around since December 3rd, 1992 when engineer Neil Papworth who was working on developing the short message system for Vodafone, sent a “Merry Christmas” message via his computer to his colleague Richard Jarvis, who could read the message on his Orbitel 901 phone without the capability of replying, since this feature became available shortly after when Nokia started releasing mobiles able to read and write SMS messages. It was just matter of time for multiple carriers to implement this technology in order to have as many users connected by the interchange of messages limited to 160 characters for the Latin alphabet or 70 characters on languages such as Arabic or Chinese to name a few. By 1999, SMS could then be inter-platform, which marked a milestone in the life of the now almost-30 years old technology.

That’s about it when comes to the basics of SMS, but let’s take a deeper look on how this technology is even possible.

The SMS technology relies primarily on what’s called the “SMS Standard”, if defines what information is sent via a text message and how, making it possible for the sender and receiver to be able to communicate, the SMS Standard englobes precious information such as the length of the message, a time stamp, destination and the message itself. When sent, the SMC is temporarily stored in the carrier’s Service Management Center which later forwards it to its recipient, pretty simple, right? Still such a powerful tool to keep you communicated with loved ones and customers.

In later years, SMS has evolved to what’s now called MMS, short for Multimedia Message Service, extending SMS limit of 160 Latin characters, plus allowing the sending and receiving images (.gif, .jpeg, .jpg), sound (.amr, .wav, .mp3) and video (.3gp and .mpeg4), thus enhancing the capabilities of the core purpose of SMS even further. This variation of SMS works slightly differently, as the sender device must first encode the multimedia content, the encoded information along with the recipient list is then posted to a Multimedia Message Service Center, which validates the sender, stores a copy of the message temporarily generating a dynamic URL link, then the MMSC sends a push notification to the recipient containing such URL which will later initiate a network connection to retrieve the encoded content, the device will then decode this and the receiver will be able to see the original message.

Now that the basics concepts of how SMS and MMS are covered, as well as a more in-depth analysis of how is this technology possible, let’s speak about the benefits of using this technology nowadays. First, being a short message, your messages are almost guaranteed to be read within minutes of reception, also, in most cases, the received will indeed receive the message without the need of any special app, which also makes this a very reliable form of communication, SMS can also be integrated using an API, enhancing any possible interaction with potential customers from your website or automating the process for tech-savvy users. SMS is private and secure. An added value to it is that it is a paid service, just knowing this fact makes the content relevant to the recipient. SMS is also versatile, these can be used for multiple purposes, since security notifications, remote area monitoring, to offer services, to Customer Service purposes, to provide shipping and delivery updates, to generate leads and engage with potential customers and even to strengthen payment security.

Thinking of implementing SMS on your business? You’ll first need to understand you have options in this area, you can either opt for a long code or for a short code, the obvious difference between these two is primarily the length, SMS Long Codes are 10-digit number and these are tied to a specific area code, these can be used for businesses that want to add a more human feel to their interaction with their customers, SMS Long Code are intended for a more 1-to-1 communication and it may be limited to 1 message per second, lastly, SMS Long Code messages have a ratio limitation where inbound to outbound text traffic should usually be 1:3 or better, while SMS Short Codes are usually 5-6 digits that can be used exclusively for sending and receiving SMS messages, this last option may provide the recipient with a sense of being receiving an automatically generated message. These usually have a higher limit of sending per second, which makes them great for bulk messaging, without any inbound-to-outbound ratio, unlike SMS Long Code messages. SMS Short Code may be implemented for marketing promotions, for special events’ warning where it is urgent and highly important for the recipient to obtain a message (such as a meteorological event, or, for customers to know if a reservation has been changed, updated or even canceled), SMS Short Codes can also be used for Two Form Authentication purposes.

Our Conclusion

While even more elaborate technologies keep currently emerging, SMS/MMS are undoubtedly still being a reliable, robust, economic and very efficient option that will suit from the most elemental purpose of connecting one person to the other for a simple greeting like the one Neil Papworth sent to his colleague Richard Jarvis back in the day when it all started almost 30 years ago, to fulfilling the demands the ever-uprising markets may require day by day.

Need more information? Feel free to check our blog article on how to generate leads SMS/MMSS here.


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