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Although it is a widely used communication mechanism for cell phone users, SMS is far more than just a technology for teenage chat. SMS technology evolved out of the global system for mobile communications standard, an internationally accepted cell phone network specification the European Telecommunications Standards Institute created. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project maintains the SMS standard. SMS messages are handled via a short message service center that the cellular provider maintains for the end devices. The SMSC can send SMS messages to the end device using a maximum payload of 140 octets. This defines the upper bound of an SMS message to be 160 characters using 7-bit encoding. It is possible to specify other schemes such as 8-bit or 16-bit encoding, which decreases the maximum message length to 140 and 70 characters, respectively.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2007