If you’re one of the 91 percent of adults in the U.S. who owns a cell phone, chances are you use SMS. If you’re a teenager, chances are you use it more. SMS, or Short Message Service, is the technical term for text messaging, the most widely used data application in the world. SMS users can send messages between cell phones or from a computer
to a cell phone. SMS was first conceptualized in the 1980s and in the last 10 years has become an important medium in both personal and business communication. Text messaging standards were initially adopted into the GSM protocol and later made available on a wide range of networks, including 3G networks.
SMS is made possible by the robust cell phone infrastructure made up of cell towers and satellites. These remote hubs create control channels. When you send a text message, it travels on one of these control channels to the corresponding tower, which routes it to the corresponding control channel of the receiver. SMS messages can fit up to 160 characters in a single message, but modern services can automatically split up longer messages in order to send the complete text.
SMS is great for communicating short comments that do not require an entire phone conversation. Cell phone users can now send multimedia content through SMS, including pictures and videos. In the business world, SMS has become a popular direct-marketing tactic. Businesses can send short messages, which are sometimes accompanied by Web links, directly to target customers’ mobile phones. SMS is the new standard for fast text communication.
Cell phone plans include options for different text messaging amounts. If you are like many Americans who view texting as the most efficient form of communication, you will likely want an unlimited SMS plan to avoid incurring expensive per-text charges.