How-To Geek

Short Message Service (SMS)

Short Message Service (SMS), or as most of us call it, texting, is the text messaging component of cellular communication networks. It’s the most widely used communication protocol in the world, with billions of people the world over collectively sending six trillion text messages annually.

SMS was first proposed and outlined in the mid 1980s but the first text message wasn’t sent using an SMS gateway until 1992–commercial deployment followed a year later in 1993. The text messages were short then and they’re short now, due entirely to the constraints of the messaging system–text messages cannot exceed 1120 total bits of data. As a result, U.S. Cellular users, whose phones use the GSM 7-bit alphabet, are limited to 160 characters (160 * 7-bit characters = 1120 total bits).

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