What is an SMS?

SMS stands for Short Message Service and is the most widely used type of text messaging. It's journey started decades ago and it came to be used in 1990s in general. But is the SMS just a message or is it more? What is an SMS? Read on to know more.

With an SMS, you can send a message of up to 160 characters to another device. Longer messages are normally split up into multiple messages. An SMS is generally sent from one mobile device to another over the cellular network.

Every year, trillions of text messages are sent between SMS-capable devices. An entire ecosystem has grown up around text messaging. SMS Marketing is now a huge industry, while other applications have built safety and support services onto the SMS platform. All the while, it's also remained a tremendous way to keep in touch with your friends and family.

Sending of SMS

SMS can be sent from a simple device such as a cell phone or from an SMS gateway. When users are interacting to an SMS, the SMS is sent from a device such as a cell phone or any other device which has SIM capabilities. Businesses normally use an SMS gateway to send SMS to their users or customers. Any device that can support a SIM and connect to a mobile network can send an SMS to another device which is capable of receiving it. But looking at business scenario, the most visible and viable option is an SMS Gateway.

SMS is a text-only standard first formalized in 1985 in the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standards. SMS in large numbers are sent from SMS Gateways operating all over the world in different countries. To know more about SMS gateway, please read our blog post what is an SMS gateway on our blog.

The very first text message ever sent was from Neil Papworth on the Vodaphone network in 1992

Luxury to Neccessity

In early days, SMS was very expensive. But with passage of time, the cost of an SMS reduced and it started to be used for marketing purposes. When businesses started to use SMS to communicate with their customers a whole new ecosystem developed. Also, new issues cropped up when businesses started using SMS.

In the early days, anyone having a cell phone would receive an SMS from companies promoting their products. This led to the thought of regulating the use of SMS for business purposes. Later on many years down the line, the government around the world came up with policies to regulate sending SMS. The regulations mostly dealt with the permission of sending an SMS to a person. Sending an SMS for promotional activities to a person without his/her permission became an offence.

Uses of SMS

In today’s time, an SMS is sent to our user with his/her permission. People can even opt-out of receiving promotional content. Nowadays, e-commerce websites are one of the top users of SMS gateways. E-commerce websites use SMS as a way to communicate to the customer when they are shopping on their website.

Even applications on your mobile phone use SMS and OTPs to authenticate users. SMS today is not only used for communication but also to authenticate user identity. OTP, One Time Password is used by banks and leading financial institutions to authenticate transactions.

CRMs and accounting softwares such as Tally, SAP and Oracle use SMS Gateways to inform users about the transactions and confirm data. CEOs, Management and Managers can get data from such systems by just sending an SMS to their internal systems. Here, 2 way communication is done with machine preprogrammed.

Newer technologies such as 5G are pushing the boundaries and opening up new frontiers. Even with such advanced technology, SMS is compatible and robust. In the coming time when 5G and Virtual Reality shall be spreading far and wide, an SMS gateway shall be still more than relevant. Read our blog post SMS in times of IoT to know how SMS shall play a key role during and after adoption of 5G.


SMS can be used creatively in many ways. As the business requires an SMS Gateway can be integrated to perform actions to inform users, both internal and external. It can be used for authentication of people, to avoid bots and to update customers. An SMS as a tool is cheap and effective both at the same time.

In case you haven’t integrated or connected an SMS gateway to your accounting system website, application or CRM, then log on to Start Messaging and register today to take the full benefits of an SMS gateway. An SMS gateway will improve your sales and give you a competing edge. Also do follow us on Facebook on our page Start Messaging and ping us to know more about how SMS gateway can aid your business.