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Abstract

This tutorial presents an overview of the Global System for Mobile Communications Short Message Service from the viewpoint of implementing
new telematic services. SMS offers the users of GSM networks the ability to exchange alphanumeric messages up to the limit of 160 characters.
The tutorial is motivated by an acute absence of research publications in this field. The information gathered in the tutorial was required
considering the increasing potential SMS offers for integration with existing messaging services and its ability to offer a successful replacement
for the Transmission Control and Internet Protocols as far as low-bandwidth-demanding applications are concerned. Initially, the tutorial gives a
brief overview of the building blocks of GSM networks — the mobile station, base station, and network subsystem — and then emphasizes the
SMS network and protocol architecture. The most widely used protocols for message submission are then introduced (text-based, SMS2000,
ETSI 0705, TAP) and compared in terms of features provided and flexibility to handle extended alphabets or two-way messaging. Finally the
tutorial outlines a summary of current and future issues for further development and research in the light of novel features for submission
protocols and telematic services.

The Global System for


Mobile Communications
Short Message Service
Guillaume Peersman and Srba Cvetkovic,
The University of Sheffield
Paul Griffiths and Hugh Spear, Dialogue Communications Ltd.

S ince the first Global System


for Mobile Communications (GSM) network started opera-
tion in 1991, more than 100 countries have adopted the stan-
to send and/or receive alphanumeric messages. The short
messages can be up to 140 bytes in length, and are delivered
within a few seconds where GSM coverage is available. More
dard. Over 20 million subscribers of GSM networks are now than a common paging service, the delivery of the message is
offered worldwide coverage, outstanding voice quality over a guaranteed even when the cellular terminal is unavailable
whole range of operating conditions, and a variety of value- (e.g., when it is switched off or outside the coverage area).
added services. These services include voice mail, call han- The network will hold the message and deliver it shortly after
dling facilities, call line identification, and Short Message the cellular terminal announces its presence on the network.
Service (SMS). The fact that SMS (through GSM) supports international
With SMS, users are able to exchange alphanumeric mes- roaming with very low latency makes it particularly suitable
sages (up to 160 characters) with other users of digital cellular for applications such as paging, e-mail, and voice mail notifi-
networks, almost anywhere in the world, within seconds of cation, and messaging services for multiple users. However,
submission. Even if the service was originally conceived as a the facilities offered to users and the charges for these facili-
paging mechanism for notifying the users of voicemail mes- ties still mainly depend on the level of service provided by the
sages, SMS is now increasingly used as a messaging service. network operator.
The messages are typically created on mobile phone keypads, There are two types of SMS available: cell broadcast [1]
which is somewhat awkward. Fortunately, there are other and point-to-point [2]. In cell broadcast, a message is trans-
ways to access the message centers, as discussed in this article. mitted to all the active handsets or mobile stations (MSs) pre-
Numerous applications are already available and make short sent in a cell that have the capability of receiving short
message reception and submission possible using a computer. messages and have subscribed to this particular information
Gateway architectures are also being widely implemented and service. This service is only one-way, and no confirmation of
connect company’s e-mail or voicemail systems to the SMS. receipt will be sent. It can send up to 93 7-bit character or 82
The practical implementation of SMS and the different 8-bit characters, typically used to transmit messages about
protocols for message submission are addressed in this article. traffic conditions, weather forecast, stock market, and so on.
The future of SMS and a brief review of the fields currently In point-to-point service, messages can be sent from one
being studied will conclude this article. mobile to another or from a PC to a mobile and vice versa.
These messages are maintained and transmitted by an SMS
The Short Message Service Center (SMSC). The SMSC is an electronic form of ordinary
mail postal service that stores and then forwards the messages
Developed as part of the GSM Phase 2 specification, the when they can be delivered. Each GSM network must support
Short Message Service, or SMS as it is more commonly one or more SMSCs to sort and route the messages. Each
known, is based on the capability of a digital cellular terminal SMSC checks, organizes, and sends the message to the opera-

IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000 1070-9916/00/$10.00 © 2000 IEEE 15


Um Abis A

ME
BTS
VLR AuC EIR HLR

BSC
SIM

BTS Operation and


Mobile
station MSC maintenance center

Base station subsystem

Data communication
Other base station subsystem SMSC network

Network subsystem
PSTN/ISDN
BTS: Base transceiver station AuC: Authentication centre
BSC: Base station controller EIR: Equipment identity register
SIM: Subscriber identity module HLR: Home location register
ME: Mobile equipment VLR: Visitor location register
■ Figure 1. The basic GSM network architecture.

tor. It also receives and passes on any confirmation messages to SIM. Because the IMEI and IMSI are independent, personal
any GSM mobile on any network. However, in practice, there mobility is possible. The SIM can be protected against unau-
are no agreements to allow SMS to travel between networks. thorized use by a personal identity number (PIN).
There are several ways in which a short message can be
submitted, depending on the interfaces supported by the GSM The Base Station Subsystem
network SMSC. Users can call a central paging bureau (i.e., The base station subsystem is composed of two parts, the
an operator), or directly create the message on the keypad of base transceiver station (BTS) and base station controller
their handset. Typing the messages is made easier when using (BSC). They communicate across the specified Abis inter-
a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a laptop connected to face, thus allowing network operators to use components
the handset. A few SMSC equipment manufacturers and com- made by different suppliers. The BTS houses the radio
panies have also developed their own protocols for short mes- transceivers that define a cell and handle the radio link pro-
sage submission. Consequently, more and more GSM tocols with the MS. Depending on the density of the area,
networks now offer access to their SMSC using these proto- more or fewer BTSs are needed to provide the appropriate
cols over a variety of hardware interfaces: modem dialup, capacity to the cell. Digital communications system (DCS)
X25, and even the Internet. networks working at 1800 MHz need twice the number of
BTSs to cover the same area as GSM networks, but provide
GSM Network Architecture twice the capacity.
The BSC manages the radio resources for one or more
The layout of a generic GSM network with its several func- BTSs via the standardized Abis interface. It handles radio
tional entities is shown in Fig. 1 [3]. The architecture can be channel setup, frequency hopping, and handovers. The BSC is
divided in three main components: the connection between the MS and the mobile switching cen-
• The subscriber holds the MS, namely the GSM terminal ter (MSC). The BSC also takes care of converting the 13 kb/s
• The base station subsystem controls the radio link with the voice channel used over the radio link (Um interface) to the
MS standardized 64 kb/s channel used by the public switched tele-
• The network subsystem performs the switching of calls and phone network (PSTN).
other management tasks such as authentication.
The Network Subsystem
The Mobile Station The MSC is the main component of the network subsystem.
The MS and base station subsystem communicate across the Its provides the same functionality as a switching node in a
Um interface, also known as the air interface or radio link. PSTN or integrated services digital network (ISDN), but also
The base station subsystem communicates with the network takes care of all the functionality needed to handle a mobile
subsystem across the A interface. The MS consists of the subscriber such as registration, authentication, location updat-
physical terminal and contains the radio transceiver, the dis- ing, handovers, and routing to a roaming subscriber. The
play and digital signal processors, and the Subscriber Identity MSC also acts as a gateway to the PSTN or ISDN, and pro-
Module (SIM). The SIM provides the user with the ability to vides the interface to the SMSC.
access their subscribed services regardless of the location and The international roaming and call routing capabilities of
the terminal used. The insertion of the SIM in any GSM cel- GSM networks are provided by the home location register
lular phone allows the user to access a network, make and (HLR) and visitor location register (VLR) together with the
receive phone calls, and use all the subscribed services. MSC. The HLR database contains all the administrative infor-
The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) mation about each registered user of a GSM network along
uniquely identifies the mobile terminal according to the Inter- with the current location of the MS. The current location of
national Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) contained in the an MS is in the form of a Mobile Station Roaming Number

16 IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000


Um air interface A interface MSC
MS

CM
CM ISDN
BSS UP
MAP TUP
MM
MM
BSSAP BSSAP
RM RR
SCCP SCCP SCCP

LAPDm LAPDm
MTP MTP level 3
MTP MTP level 2
MTP level 1
TDMA/FDMA TDMA/FDMA

Message layer Data link layer Physical layer

■ Figure 2. The GSM protocol architecture.

(MSRN), typically the SS7 number of tion over the radio link to transmit
the visited MSC, and used to route a MAP call-related signaling information such
call to the MSC where the mobile is TUP ISUP as the establishment of the signaling
actually located. TCAP and traffic channel between the MS
The VLR is usually located within and the BSS.
the MSC to speed up access to the On the MSC side, the message layer
information required during a call and SCCP is divided into four sublayers. The
simplify the signaling. The content of Base System Substation Application
the VLR is a selection of the informa- MTP level 3 Part (BSSAP) of the MSC provides
tion from the HLR, basically all neces- the channel switching functions, radio
sary information for call control and MTP level 2
resources management, and internet-
provision of the subscribed services, working functions. The Message
for each single mobile currently locat- Transfer Part (MTP) and Signaling
ed in the geographical area controlled MTP level 1 Connection Control Part (SCCP) pro-
by the VLR. tocols are used to implement the data
The network subsystem uses two link layer and layer 3 transport func-
other databases for authentication and ■ Figure 3. The SS7 protocol stack. tions for carrying the call control and
security purposes. The Equipment mobility management signaling mes-
Identity Register (EIR) contains a list sages across the A interface. SCCP
of each MS IMEI allowed on the network. The authentication packets are also used to carry the messages for SMS.
center (AuC) database contains each single PIN stored in the Signaling between the different entity uses the Internation-
MS SIM. al Telecommunication Union (ITU) SS7, widely used in ISDN
and current public networks. SS7 is currently the only element
The GSM Signaling Protocol of the GSM infrastructure capable of packet switching as well
The exchange of signaling messages regarding mobility, radio as circuit switching. It is used to transport control signals and
resources, and connection management between the different short message packets for SMS. The protocol consists of the
entities of a GSM network is handled through the protocol Mobile Application Part (MAP), Transaction Capability
architecture, as shown on Fig. 2. Application Part (TCAP), SCCP, MTP, and ISDN-User Part
The architecture consists of three layers: physical, data (ISUP) or Telephone User Part (TUP). Figure 3 depicts the
link, and message. The physical layer and channel structure SS7 protocol stack.
are described in detail by M. Mouly and M. Pautet [4]. Layer The ISUP provides the signaling functions needed to sup-
2 implements the data link layer using a modified flavor of the port switched voice and data applications in the ISDN envi-
Link Access Protocol (LAPD) to operate within the con- ronment. The TUP provides the basic functionality for call
straints set by the radio path. On the MS side, the message control functions for ordinary national and international tele-
layer consists of three sublayers: connection management phone calls. The TCAP is an application layer protocol. It
(CM), mobility management (MM), and resource manage- allows an application at one node to invoke an execution of a
ment (RR). The CM sublayer manages call-related supple- procedure at another node and exchange the results of such
mentary services, SMS, and call-independent supplementary invocation. It isolates the user application from the complexity
services support. The MM sublayer provides functions to of the transaction layer by automatically handling transaction
establish, maintain, and release a connection between the MS and invocation state changes, and generating the abort or
and the MSC, over which an instance of the CM sublayer can reject messages in full accordance with ITU and American
exchange information with its peer. It also performs location National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. The MAP
updating, IMSI management, and Temporary Mobile Sub- uses the TCAP services to provide the signaling capabilities
scriber Identity (TMSI) identification, authentication, and required to support the mobile capabilities.
reallocation. The RR sublayer establishes the physical connec- The MTP and SCCP (Fig. 4) correspond to the lower three

IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000 17


TCAP/ISUP/TUP

mation will always be returned to the SMSC


indicating whether the MS has received the short
message or not. A confirmation will also be
SCCP connection- SCCP connectionless
oriented control control returned to the MS from an SMSC indicating
whether the TPDU has been received successful-
SCCP ly. The software within the MS must be able to
management
decode and store the messages.
SCCP SMS Mobile Terminated (SMS-MT) is the
SCCP ability to receive an SMS message from an
routing control
SMSC and is more ubiquitous, while SMS
Mobile Originated (SMS-MO) is the ability to
MTP
level 3 Signaling message Signaling network send short messages to an SMSC. Messages can
handling handling also be stored on the SIM, which can be
retrieved at a later time. When the phone is not
within coverage or the SIM is full, the SMSC
MTP Signaling link MTP will hold the message and deliver it shortly after
level 2 functions management
the phone comes back into range or there is
space in memory.
MTP
level 1 Signaling data link The SMS Basic Network Architecture
functions
The main components of the SMS network archi-
tecture are shown in Fig. 5.
■ Figure 4. The SCCP and MTP sublayers. When routing a mobile originated short mes-
sage, the SMSC forwards the short message to
the SMS-GMSC. The SMS-GMSC interrogates
the HLR for routing information and sends the
SMSC SMS-GMSC / MSC MS short message to the appropriate MSC. The
SMS-IWMSC
MSC delivers the short message to the MS. On
the other hand, when routing a mobile terminat-
ed short message, the MS addresses the required
SMSC according to its global title. If roaming
abroad the visited public limited mobile network
HLR VLR (PLMN) will route the short message to the
appropriate SMS-IWMSC.
The SMSC identifies each short message unique-
ly by adding a time stamp in the SMS-DELIVER
■ Figure 5. The SMS network architecture.
TP-SCTS field. The short message arrival at the
SMSC is accurate to the second. It is the SMSC’s
responsibility to assure that if two or more short
layers of the open system interconnection (OSI) model (Fig. 4). message arrive within the same second their time-stamps will be
The SCCP sublayer supports connectionless and connection- different.
oriented services to transfer data and Global Title Translation The MS has to be able to receive/submit a short message
(GTT) above MTP level 3 for voice, data, ISDN, and GSM ser- TPDU, and then return a delivery report upon successful
vices. The data transfer is reliable, independent of the underly- reception. It is also responsible for notifying the network
ing hardware, and transparent to users. The protocol employs when it has memory capacity available to receive one or more
logical signaling connections within the SS7 network to ensure messages, if it had previously rejected a short message because
reliability and integrity of the ongoing data transfer. The MTP its memory capacity was exceeded.
is divided into three levels:
• MTP level 1 defines the characteristics of the digital signal- Protocol Architecture
ing link and is equivalent to the OSI physical layer. The protocol layer for SMS is shown in Fig. 6. The short mes-
• MTP level 2 is equivalent to the OSI data link layer and sage transfer layer (SM-TL) services the short message appli-
provides a reliable sequenced delivery of data packets cation layer (SM-AL) and enables it to exchange short
across MTP level 1. messages with a peer as well as receive confirmation of recep-
• MTP level 3 provides congestion control, signaling manage- tion reports from earlier requests.
ment, and message discrimination, distribution,
and routing in a similar way as the OSI network
layer. SMS-Deliver Conveying a short message from the SMSC to the MS
SMS-Deliver-Report Conveying a failure cause
Practical Implementation
SMS-Submit Conveying a short message from the MS to the SMSC
SMS uses the SS7 signaling channel to transmit the
data packet [5], thus allowing a text message to be SMS-Submit-Report Conveying a failure cause
received when the user is making a voice or data
call. An active MS should be able to send and SMS-Status-Report Conveying a status report from the SMSC to the MS
receive a short message Transport Protocol Data SMS-Command Conveying a command from the MS to the SMSC
Unit (TPDU) at any time regardless of whether
there is a speech or data call in progress. A confir- ■ Table 1. TPDU types.

18 IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000


SMSC SMS-GMSC / MSC MS
SMS-IWMSC
element data (IED) that follows. Each of
these fields is 1 octet long.
SM-AL SM-AL
In the user data, the message can be 7 bits,
8 bits, or 16 bits. If 7-bit data is used and the
header does not end on a 7-bit boundary,
SM-TL SM-TL padding bits are used. This is to ensure that
older mobiles which do not support the TP-UD
SM-RL SM-RL SM-RL SM-RL header can still display the message properly.
Using the IEI allows sending and receiving
of concatenated short messages. The IED field
SM-LL SM-LL SM-LL SM-LL contains all the necessary information for the
receiving entity to reassemble the messages in
the correct order, and is coded as follows:
■ Figure 6. The protocol layer for SMS point-to-point.
• First octet: short message reference num-
ber identifying the message within the same
transaction
The SM-TL exchanges PDUs with its peer entity. The • Second octet: specifies the maximum number of short mes-
short message relay layer (SM-RL) conveys the PDUs via the sages in the concatenated short message, which will not
short message link layer (SM-LL). Refer to GSM 03.40 [2] for exceed 255
further details. • Third octet: identifies the sequence number of the short
message within the concatenated message
SMS Protocol Data Unit Types The minimum header length for concatenated message is 7
There are six types of TPDU at the SM-TL, as listed in Table octets for 8-bit and 16-bit data and 8 for 7-bit data; leaving 133
1. The elements of the SMS-Deliver and SMS-Submit TPDU (140 – 7), 152 (160 – 8), and 66 ((140 – 7)/2) characters for the
are shown in Fig. 7 [2]. The main fields of the TPDU are short message. The maximum length of the message is then
described in this document however for a complete descrip- increased to 38,760 (255*152), 33,915 (255*133), or 16,830
tion of the TPDU please refer to GSM 03.40 [2]. (255*66) depending on the character coding scheme used.

TP-Data-Coding-Scheme
The data coding scheme field (TP-DCS) is used to iden-
tify the coding scheme used by the user data, which can TP-message-type-indicator
be 7- or 8-bit or even Unicode [6], as defined in GSM
03.38 [7].
TP-message-type-indicator TP-reject-duplicate
TP-Validity-Period
The TP-VP field contains an information element
enabling an MS to specify a validity period for the short TP-more-message-to-send TP-validity-period format
message it is submitting. The value specifies how long an
SMSC will guarantee the existence of a short message
before delivery to the recipient has been carried out. TP-reply-path TP-reply-path

TP-More-Message-To-Send
TP-user-data-header-indicator TP-user-data-header-indicator
The SMSC uses the TP-MMS field to inform the MS that
one or more short messages are waiting to be delivered.
TP-status-report TP-message reference
TP-User-Data-Header-Indicator
The 1-bit TP-UDHI field indicates whether the TP-UD
includes an additional header as well as the short message. TP-originating-address TP-destination-address

TP-Protocol Identifier
The TP-PID is used by the MS or SMSC to identify the TP-protocol-ID TP-protocol-ID
higher-layer protocol being used for internetworking
with a certain type of telematic device (Telefax group 3
or 4, Ermes, etc.) TP-data-coding-scheme TP-data-coding-scheme

TP-User-Data (TP-UD)
The TP-UD field is used to carry the short message. It TP-service-center-time-stamp TP-validity-period
can store up to 140 octets of data for point-to-point SMS,
together with a header depending on the setting of the TP-user-data-length TP-user-data-length
TP-UDHI field. The amount of space taken by the header
reduces the amount of data the PDU can carry. Figure 8
shows a representation of the layout of the TP-UD for 7- TP-user-data TP-user-data
and 8-bit data schemes.
The header has at least three fields. The first field,
the information element identifier, is used to identify SMS-deliver SMS-submit
concatenated short messages. Information data length
(IDL) is used to indicate the length of the information ■ Figure 7. An SMS TL-PDU.

IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000 19


Octets Octets

UDL UDHL IEIa IELa IEDa IEIb … IEIn Padding SM (7-bit data)
Septet boundary
Total number of octets

Length indicator Total number of septets


Length indicator

UDL: User data length — 1 octet


UDHL: User data header length — 1 octet
IEIx: Information element identifier x — 1 octet
IELx: Information element length x — 1 octet
IEDx: Information element data x — 1 to n

UDL UDHL IEIa IELa IEDa IEIb … IEIn SM (8-bit data)


Octet boundary
Total number of octets

Length indicator Total number of octets

Length indicator

■ Figure 8. SMS-TPDU formats for 7-bit and 8-bit data content.

Short Message Routing Considerations also lead to the short message not being understood and
being rejected. All the above-mentioned problems can lead to
In Fig. 9, user A in network 1 is sending a short message to packets getting lost along the way with different conse-
user B in network 3 roaming in network 4 . User A is using quences:
the SMSC in network 1 to submit his short message [8]. • A negative acknowledgment received by the sender (phone
The local cellular exchange routes the short message in an displaying “message failed” or a similar message) although
SCCP packet according to the SMSC global title as defined by the short message reaches its destination (loss of packet 1 )
the E.164 numbering plan [9]. The SCCP packet is forwarded • Reception of duplicate short messages by user B (loss of
from exchange to exchange until it reaches the destination packet 5 or 9 ); could also be due to the timeout value
SMSC (1). The routing has to be set up in all the SCCP switches being set too low in the SMSC
along the route for the message to successfully reach the SMSC • Or, in the worst case the message might not be delivered at
in network 1 . all (loss of packet 1 , 3 , 4 , 5 )
Once the SCCP packet carrying the message arrives at the Even if Fig. 9 shows the most complicated routing scenario
destination SMSC, a confirmation message is sent back to the there is still much that can go wrong with short message rout-
handset using another SCCP packet (2). ing, and a lot of research is currently underway to overcome
To deliver the short message to user B, the SMSC has to these.
access the HLR database of his home network. A location
request SCCP packet, based on user B’s mobile number, is
sent by the SMSC (3). Protocols for
This international SCCP network then routes the location Short Message Submission
request SCCP packet to the appropriate HLR. When the
HLR receives the request, it will return the location informa- The European Telecommunications Standards Institute
tion in another SCCP packet to the SMSC (4). (ETSI) specified a protocol for short message submission as
The SMSC then sends the message to the VMSC of user part of the overall GSM standard [10]. This specification
B, based on the information received from the HLR (5). defines three interface protocols for the transfer of SMS short
Finally, this VMSC interrogates the VLR (6, 7), and delivers messages between an MS and terminal equipment (TE) via an
the message to user B (8). Upon successful delivery a confir- asynchronous interface. The protocols clearly overlap in func-
mation SCCP packet is sent back to the SMSC (9). tions, and it is not clear why three have been defined.
Throughout these routing procedures, the SCCP packets
can get lost if one of the cellular exchanges along the route Block Mode
does not know where to forward the SCCP packet. SCCP The block mode is a binary protocol which encapsulates the
routing is based on the global title used for switches and the SMS PDU used for short message transfer between an MS
SMSC. The routing information has to be in place in the and the SMSC defined in GSM 03.40 [2]. This protocol
international SCCP transit switches for the messages to suc- includes error detection and is suitable for use where the
cessfully reach their destination. Some international switches link between the application and the phone is subject to
only check the country code prefix (e.g., 44 for the United errors. It will be of particular use where control of remote
Kingdom) and forward the packet to the next exchange, while devices is required. The application has to construct a bina-
others also check for the network prefix (e.g., 447976 for ry string including a header and the short message PDU
Orange). If the exchange routing table does not include all (SMS-TPDU).
the prefixes allocated to the subscribers, some messages will Once the application has requested the phone to enter
be rejected. Incompatible implementation of the SMSC can block mode a group of functions is available:

20 IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000


Originator Recipient
1 network visited network 4

(1) (1) (1) (5) (5) (8) User B


User (2) (2) (2) (9) (9) (9)
A
BSC/BSC VMSC BSC/BSC
Local (6)(7)
Local International International SCCP switch
SCCP switch SCCP switch SCCP switch

(1) (2) (5) (9) VL


R

Foreign SMSC
2 network Recipient 3
home network
(1) (1)
(2) (2)
(3) (3) (3) (3) (3) HL
(4) (4) (4) (4) (4) R
(5) (5) (5)
(9) (9) (9)
Local
SMSC Local International International SCCP switch
SMS-IWMSC SCCP switch SCCP switch SCCP switch (x): Message number

■ Figure 9. International short message routing.

• Submit a short message or PDU mode. The text mode does not support or automati-
• Delete messages from the phone cally pass incoming messages to the application (only notify it).
• List messages in the phone
• Transfer all messages or one from the phone to the application PDU Mode
• Set the phone so that the application is notified every time PDU mode is very similar to text mode, except that it leaves to
a new short message is received the application the responsibility to build the short message
Each of these commands contains a number of predefined TPDU. This mode adds to the convenience of the AT command
elements as described in the specification. For example, the set the possibility to construct more sophisticated PDUs (i.e.,
Insert Message command format used to submit a short mes- allowing binary data to be transmitted, not just characters).
sage is depicted in Table 2.
SEMA SMS2000
Text Mode Sema Group Telecoms developed SMS2000 as an implemen-
Text mode is a character-based protocol based on the AT tation of a GSM SMSC [11]. The specification mainly
command set modified for GSM. This mode is suitable for describes the delivery of short messages to MSs, but also spec-
unintelligent terminals or terminal emulators, and for applica- ifies the protocols for short message submission. The protocol
tion software built on command structures like those defined has been designed to operate over a variety of interfaces such
in ITU V25ter. The application passes the message in plain as X25, DECnet, and SS7. The SMS2000 SMSC is usually
text to the phone that constructs the TPDU (Table 3). This accessed via the general X25 access gateway -either using a
means that text mode offers a lot less functionality than block radio Packet Assembler Disassembler (PAD) or a dedicated
link to the message center.
Once connected to the SMSC, an SME can
Information element Meaning Length byte request any of the operations listed in Table 4. The
SMS2000 SMSC can also send the commands listed
Message type Insert SMS type: the value defined 1 in Table 5 to an SME.
in the specification is 0x07

Insert type 1. Store in phone 1


SME SMSC
2. Send, or
3. Store and send
Submit SM
RP-dest. address Address of recipient as defined 1–12
by GSM 04.01 SM submission status
SMS-TPDU As defined by GSM 03.40 Max. 140

■ Table 2. Short message submission using block mode.


SM delivery status report

AT+CMGS=”44976123456”<CR> Send a message to 44976123456


This is a text message<CR> Invoke (submit SM)
^Z

+CMGS=3 Message accepted by the phone with


OK a reference number 3
■ Figure 10. Short message submission using
■ Table 3. Short message submission using text mode. SMS2000.

IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000 21


PLEASE ENTER THE MOBILE NUMBER IN
INTERNATIONAL FORMAT, E.G.
44385XXXXXX, FOLLOWED BY RETURN, (OR
A transaction between the SME and the SMSC involves RETURN TO QUIT).
one party sending a request with a status report sent back on
completion or failure of the request. Figure 10 depicts the >44374164828
submission of a short message from an SME to the SMS2000
SMSC. PLEASE TYPE YOUR TELENOTE, (MAXIMUM
The transaction is initiated by the SME when a Submit SM 160 CHARACTERS), FOLLOWED BY RETURN.
invoke is sent to the SMSC. The SMSC responds with a result
message indicating that the short message has been accepted >This is a test message
and is being processed. Upon delivery the SMSC notifies the
SME (if a status report has been requested). The SME then MESSAGE ACCEPTED
acknowledges the SR, thus completing the transaction.
Since the SMEs connected to the SMS2000 SMSC are ■ Figure 11. Short message submission using Telenote.
assumed to be trusted systems, a basic transaction will not
include any exchange of login and password between the SME
and the SMSC. However a login facility is still provided in Telocator Alphanumeric Protocol
order to access the SMSC from a different location (i.e., PAD).
Developed by Telecom Securicor Cellular Radio Limited, the
Text-Based Protocols Telocator Alphanumeric Protocol [12] provides greater flexi-
bility and more features than text-based protocols. The overall
Usually these protocols are proprietary and developed as an performance is also significantly more efficient.
interface to the SMSC of a digital cellular network operator. In its fully featured implementation, the protocol allows
The advantage of a text-based protocol is that the user does the user to perform the following operations:
not need any special client software to submit a short mes- 1. Submit a short message and receive confirmation of accep-
sage; they can dial the appropriate message center using any tance.
terminal emulation software and submit short messages 2. Submit a short message and receive status of the first deliv-
using the different options offered. Figure 11 describes the ery attempt.
submission of a short message using the Telenote-text based 3. Query the current status of a message submitted by 1 or 2.
protocol. 4. Delete a message submitted by 1 or 2.
There are, however, key disadvantages with text-based pro- 5. Replace a message submitted by 1 or 2, unless the message
tocols: they offer limited support for extended character sets, has already been delivered to the mobile.
and only work one way, to name a few. The user is only able 6. Update a message submitted by 1 or 2. If the message is
to send messages and receive confirmation of submission. The still in the SMSC. it is replaced; otherwise, a new message
SMSC is unable to notify the end user of successful delivery. is sent to the mobile.
TAP is a session-based protocol, as opposed
to a permanently connected one. Each session
Submit SM Send an SM to an MS comprises a logon, a number of transactions, and
Delete SM Delete a previously submitted SM a logoff, as shown on Fig. 12.

Replace SM Replace a previously submitted SM to an MS. Other Submission Protocols


Many others protocols have been designed and
Delete all SM Delete all previously submitted and undelivered SM to an MS
operate over a wide range of hardware interfaces
Enquire SM Request status of a previously submitted SM (UCP, CIMD, SMPP, etc.). Most of the protocols
can be classified as dumb or smart based on
Cancel SRR Cancel all status report requests (SRR) about a previously whether they provide notification of delivery
submitted SM. and/or advanced functionality (message deletion,
replacement, etc.). We chose to discuss the pro-
Alert SME request Request to be alerted when a specified SME becomes
registered.
tocols used in the United Kingdom as an example
of the different possibilities offered to subscribers
Retrieve Request Request transmission from the SMS2000 SMSC of any and software developers.
pending SM or SR.

Login For X25 general access when accessing from a different


Current Issues
location SMS is increasingly popular; the barrier of 100
Change Password For X25 general access when accessing from a different million messages in a month was recently reached
location in the United Kingdom. As growing numbers of
users start to realize that GSM has more to offer
■ Table 4. SMS2000 commands. than crystal clear voice calls, the services offered
are likely to evolve even more rapidly, and it is
quite likely that data calls and short messages will
Alert SME Indicates a MS has registered with the GSM network soon represent an important part of the overall
GSM traffic.
Status Report Indicates successful delivery or failure of a previously New protocols are now being designed that
submitted SM. will allow even more advanced functionality to be
implemented in client software. Some of the fea-
Incoming SM Indicates an incoming SM is being held by the SMS2000 tures under development include:
SMSC
• Support for message concatenation to allow up
■ Table 5. Additional SMS2000 commands. to 255 messages to be submitted as part of the

22 IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000


SME SMSC

<CR> [12] Telocator Alphanumeric Protocol (PCIA) v. 1.2 Functional Spec for TAP-
AIM ver 2.6 (Aldiscon)
ID=
Additional Reading
[1] M. Rahnema, “Overview of the GSM System and Protocol Architecture,”
<ESC>PG1<Password><CR>
IEEE Commun. Mag., vol. 3, no. 4, Apr. 1993, pp. 92–100.

<CR><ACK><CR>
Biographies
GUILLAUME PEERSMAN (G.Peersman@dcs.shef.ac.uk) graduated from the Insti-
<ESC>[p<CR> tut Superieur d’Electronique de Paris (ISEP) in 1996 with a double M.Eng.
in electronics and computer networks. He then joined the University of
Sheffield, and is currently reading for a Ph.D. degree in the Computer Sci-
<STX><MISDN><CR><Message><CR><ETX><Checksum<CR>
ence Department. His research interests focus on the development and per-
formance analysis of two-way messaging gateways for the GSM Short
<Message response><CR><ACK><CR> Message Service. He also recently extended his field of research to the
Wireless Application Protocol gateway design.

SRBA R. CVETKOVIC (S.Cvetkovic@dcs.shef.ac.uk) completed his B.Sc. (with


First Class Honours) and Ph.D. degrees in electronic and electrical engineer-
■ Figure 12. Short message submission using TAP. ing at City University, London (1983) and University College London (1987),
respectively. In June 1987, he joined the Department of Electronic and Elec-
trical Engineering at the University of Surrey as a lecturer in telecommuni-
cations and satellite systems. In September 1992 he moved to the
same transaction Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics, Brunel University,
West London, to a senior lectureship in data communications. In Septem-
• Support for distribution list creation and modification with- ber 1995 he took up the post of senior lecturer in multimedia communica-
in the SMSC to greatly increase short message throughput tions systems in the Department of Computer Science at the University of
Last but not least, some research projects are studying the pos- Sheffield. In January 1996 he established the Centre for Research, Education
sibility of using SMS as an alternative layer to TCP/IP, thus and Development Online (CREDO). He now leads the Research Group in Com-
munications and Distributed Systems (CDSRG), which he co-founded in Octo-
adding mobility to low-bandwidth applications. Intel’s Narrow ber 1997 with Prof. Colin Smythe. CDSRG (including CREDO) is currently
Band Socket specification first tried to define how applications involved in projects of value in excess of US$8.5million and has over 35 full-
could benefit by using SMS as an alternative to TCP/IP; however, time members of academic, research, and support staff. In October 1997 he
this work is now in the process of being superseded by the Wire- was promoted to reader (in telematics) and in June 1999 to a personal chair
in mobile systems, a joint position between the Departments of Electronic and
less Application Protocol (WAP). Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. His research interests include
multimedia/broadband communication systems, satellite communications and
References DSP systems, as well as numerical modeling and measurements of electro-
[1] ETSI GSM 3.41, “Digital Cellular Telecommunication System (Phase 2); magnetic fields. More recently, his focus has been on protocols for supporting
Technical Realisation of Short Message Service Cell Broadcast (SMSCB),” mobile systems (Mobile IPv6, GSM/SMS) and knowledge management. For
v. 5.2.0, May. 1996. further information visit http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/~srba
[2] ETSI GSM 3.40, “Digital Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2+)
Technical Realisation of the Short Message Service Point-to-Point,” v. PAUL GRIFFITHS (P.Griffiths@dialogue.co.uk) graduated from Sheffield City Poly-
4.13.0, May. 1996. technic in 1986 with a B.Sc. Hons. in business studies. He then joined
[3] J. Scourias, “A Brief Overview of GSM,” Univ. of Waterloo; http://ccnga/ Fretwell Downing Data Systems as a software developer where he worked on
uwaterloo.ca/~jscouria/GSM/gsmreport.html various projects between 1998 and 1991. Between 1991 and 1994 he
[4] M. Mouly and M. Pautet, “The GSM System for Mobile Communica- worked on secondment with Sheffield Hallam University to conduct research
tions,” 1992. into the development of GUI environments. In 1994 he helped to found Dia-
[5] W. Roth, “Data Service on the GSM Platform,” GSM Summit Hong logue Communications Limited who developed a product for GSM short
Kong, Mar. 1993. messaging called pagemail which has since sold over 500,000 copies. He has
[6] ISO/IEC10646, “Universal Multiple Octet Coded Character Set (USC), since been involved with both business and technical aspects of developing
UCS2, 16 Bit Coding.” server products for GSM SMS. He is now co-director of Dialogue Communica-
[7] ETSI GSM 3.38, “Digital Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2+): tions Ltd., a specialist SMS software manufacturer which has recorded an
Alphabets and language-specific information,” v. 5.2, May. 1996. average growth rate of 70 percent for the last three years.
[8] K. Holley, http:/ftp.labs.bt.com/people/holleyka
[9] CCITT E.164, “Numbering Plan of the International Telephone Service,” HUGH SPEAR (H.Spear@dialogue.co.uk) received an M.Sc. with distinction in
v. 5, 1997. Software Systems Technology from Sheffield University in 1991. Between
[10] GSM 07.05, “Digital Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2); 1991 and 1995 he worked as a systems analyst and project leader with
Use of Data Terminal Equipment — Data Circuit terminating; Equip- Fretwell-Downing Data Systems in Sheffield. In 1995 he co-founded Dia-
ment (DTE - DCE) interface for Short Message Service (SMS) and Cell logue Communications Limited, a mobile messaging business which devel-
Broadcast Service (CBS),” draft, May 1996. ops and markets products and services for messaging over GSM SMSand
[11] SEMA Group Telecommunications, “SMS2000 v. 4.0, Open Interface paging services. By the end of 1999 Dialogue had over 250,000 customers
Specification,” INS/FS/28. and products in over 20 countries.

IEEE Personal Communications • June 2000 23