The history of SMS technology
SMS abbreviation is known to all of us. The fact that it is a service for an exchange of short text messages between the subscribers of cellular networks is known even to each child now, who got the first mobile phone before entering a school. But not everyone knows how this technology is made and appeared. Today, we would like to tell you the story of SMS emergence, where Nokia played a very important role. We will also mention some aspects of this technology and some interesting facts.
The service of SMS text messages is the most widespread service for data transmission in the world — in 2011, nearly 4 billion subscribers used this service.
It is not difficult to guess, as the idea is similar, that a service of SMS messages originates from the radiotelegraphs and the pagers. It used the standardized telephone protocols, which became a part of a series of GSM standards in 1985, when a message limit was defined to 160 symbols. Since then the support of this service was added to the other mobile technologies such as ANSI CDMA networks and Digital AMPS, as well as satellite and land networks.
The original concept
The GSM group was established by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) to create a single cellular system of a range of 900 MHz in the countries of Europe. The initial plan of group actions ran as follows “provided to the public switched telephone networks and data networks services should be available in mobile systems”. The implementation should include the text messages exchange both directly between mobile stations, and the transmission of messages through the Message Handling Systems — the e-mail protocol, which was extremely widespread at that time. The Action Plan was adopted in December 1982.
The SMS concept was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert. The innovation trait of SMS was brevity. GSM was telephony-optimized therefore the main idea of SMS contained the transmission of messages on the alarm ways, which were necessary for voice traffic control of a telephony (communication quality, information on entering calls) during lack of the alarm traffic. As a result, the unused resources of the system could be employed to transmit messages at minimal cost. However, the length of text messages had to be 128 bytes (later this number increased to 140 bytes) so that SMS messages could be used in existing networks. This concept allowed realizing SMS at each mobile station through a simple software upgrade.
The first offer which has given rise to the development of SMS has been done thanks to practices of experts from Germany and France at a GSM group meeting in Oslo in February 1985. Then on the basis of German scientists researches this specification was studied by GSM subgroup WP1 Services. By June 1985 the main group of GSM-specification approved SMS.
The main group of GSM considered SMS possible service for new digital cellular systems. Two types of shot messages such as SMS MT and SMS MO were introduced in GSM document entitled “Services and services provided by GSM” (Services and Facilities to be provided in the GSM System).
•Short message Mobile Terminated (SMS MT): network’s ability to send the message sent to your mobile phone;
•Short message Mobile Originated (SMS MO): network’s ability to send the message sent from a mobile phone.
Such messages occupied 140 bytes by size, plus a few bytes of technical information: the type of message, sending time, message encoding scheme, the source address / recipient and so on. Light weight allowed freely transferring SMS-messages directly during the telephone conversation.
140 bytes which have been taken away on the message, depending on the encoding scheme for the end user, mean the following restrictions on the length of the SMS:
• 160 symbols when using 7-bit encoding, as described in the specification GSM 03.38 (the Latin alphabet and the main symbols, which can be found here);
• 140 symbols when using 8-bit encoding. This encoding is used when writing SMS in a language, that uses Latin symbols with diacritical signs — for example, German or French;
• 70 symbols when using 16-bit encoding UTF-16. This encoding is used to support other national languages: Russian, Chinese, Arab and so on.
In the document describing SMS, the mode of broadcasting Short message Cell Broadcast (SMS CB) also was specified. It was intended for one-way transfer of data to the mobile users being in limits both all cellular networks, and in its certain part. This mode was planned to use for sending messages with advertizing, weather reports or, for example, information on traffic jams.
SMS specification being finalized for several years, but in the whole remained without any serious changes.
The first SMS message containing the text "Merry Christmas" has been sent from the computer to the phone in Great Britain on December 3, 1992. The first SMS- message on GSM networks was sent in 1993 — it was sent over Nokia phone by the trainee of the same company.
The first commercial SMS-center (SMSC, Short message service center) for message routing and management of the process of delivery appeared in Sweden in 1993. In the same year the Finnish mobile network operator Radiolinja offered the world’s first commercially available person-to-person messaging service (by the way, the same operator served the first GSM call in the world, using the equipment which has been in common developed by the Nokia and Siemens companies in July 1, 1991).
In spite of this, the SMS service remained unpopular for a long time, and the majority of phones had no possibilities to send SMS. From this point of view Nokia profitably differed from competitors: only in the Finnish producer already in 1993 the entire range of GSM a phone company supported sending shot text messages.
First of all the cellular operators of mobile networks were guilty in slow spreading SMS. They couldn't decide on a new billing service for a long time, delaying its entry into the market. Besides, the operators didn't initially give an opportunity to send text messages to subscribers of competing operators.
Now, of course, SMS is much more popular, than a decade ago.
On the other hand, the increasing popularity of SMS-messages will die away sooner or later in consequence of increasing popularity of internet messages for mobile facilities. So, WhatsApp is one of the most popular mobile Internet messengers, which replaced SMS and was available not only on the expensive smart phones, but also on the inexpensive Nokia phones on the Series 40 platform which, by the way, were already sold more than 1,5 billion. Now by means of WhatsApp over 12 thousand messages are sent every second, and this number continues to grow every day.
Certainly, SMS won't disappear even for many years: the market is saturated with millions of phones without the possibility to go to the Web, besides the mobile Internet is not widespread everywhere. However the following tendency has been outlined: in large cities where inhabitants became «better dressed» and even more often choose smartphones, and operators achieved a full covering 3G, and as a result the population finally got out of the habit of SMS.
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