Sms Technology As A Communication Platform Computer Science Essay

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Nowadays, SMS which defined as short messaging services is a communication technology that widely used. SMS plays an important role in many people daily lives, especially the younger generations. The users of SMS is growing rapidly from day to day, there are almost 3.5 trillion of SMS messages are exchanged in 2008 as indicated by Portio Research(2008).

SMS is available for most mobile phone and does not require to download any software for used it. A single SMS can support up to 160 characters and those characters can be in words or numbers or an alphanumeric combination. However, the SMS can support 70 characters for non-Latin alphabets only examples like Chinese input words.

SMS is a universal data service and is supported on GSM, TDMA, and CDMA networks. An SMS message can originate from an external system such as e-mail or mobile device and is routed through the network, via the short messaging service center (SMSC), to the destination. SMS is able to deliver messages in any time, regardless of whether a phone call is in progress.

SMS is store and forward service which means the message will pass through the SMS Center before it is delivery to the recipient and it has one or more messaging centers to manage and handle the SMS for each mobile network. Therefore SMS is reliable in delivery of the message. Even though the recipient is temporary unavailable for receiving the message due to the signal issue or the recipient mobile devices is off.

A SMS is able to send to many people at a time, and it has the features of confirmation of message delivery, which is means that the sender will received a notification message when the message is successfully delivery to the recipient.

SME is an entity that located in a mobile station, fixed network or another service center that typically used to send and receive SMS messages, and the SME can be any of the method that can be used to generate and send the short message, such as sends SMS via the internet.

Short Message Service Center (SMSC)

Short message service center (SMSC) is responsible for handling the SMS operation and the SMSC has the function of store-and forwarding which is used to temporary store the message that currently unable to reach the destination or recipient. Besides, every SMS message that transmitted from a mobile phone will go through the SMSC before forward to the destination. The SMSC will store the SMS message if the recipient is unavailable such as the mobile phone of recipient is switched off or out of signal, while the recipient is available, the SMSC will forward the SMS message to the recipient.

SMS-Gateway/Interworking Mobile Switching Center (GMSC/ IWMSC)

The SMS gateway MSC (SMS-GMSC)/ SMS interworking MSC (SMS-IWMSC) has the capacity of receive a message from a SMS center, after that it would requesting the routing information from HLR, and subsequently transferring or send the message to the MSC of the particular recipient's mobile station.

Home Location Register (HLR)

HLR is defined as a database that used for managed data of subscriber and serve as constantly keeping the subscriber's service profiles and personal information in storage. The HLR will transmit the routing information of the subscriber to SMS Center when received the request from the SMS Center and the HLR will also inform the SMS Center about the SMS message failed to deliver from the particular mobile station.

Visitor Location Register (VLR)

VLR is integrated with the MSC. Information of the subscriber will be stored in the VLR in a short period, therefore when a message that needed to be delivered to the recipient, the MSC will request the information about the recipient in VLR for the message delivery such as the current location area of the recipient.

Mobile Switching Center (MSC)

The MSC is integrated with VLR and the responsibility of MSC is to carry out the switching functions of the system and manipulate calls traffic of mobile station, the MSC will receive the SMS message from the SMSC and forward to the mobile station in the mobile-terminating (MT) short message. In other hand, the MSC will transfer the message to the SMSC that received from the mobile station in the mobile-originating (MO) short message.

Base Station System (BSS)

The Base Station System is a system that connect the MS to the MSC, besides the BSS is used to transmit the voice and the data and carry out all the radio-related functions and the components of the BSS are includes the base transceiver stations (BTSs) and base station controllers (BSCs).

Mobile Station (MS)

The mobile station is a device that used by the mobile user to connect to the mobile wireless network. The mobile user can used the mobile station to perform phone calling, send and receive the SMS.

Common Channel Signaling System 7 (SS7)

Digital signaling control network used by network elements of wired and wireless telephone carriers to exchange control information for call setup, routing, mobility management.

Model of Mobile-Terminating Short Message

Figure 2 (IEC,2007)

Firstly, the SME will forward the short message to the SMSC, after that the SMSC will request the routing information of the mobile subscriber from the HLR.

Next, a forward Short Message operation is used to forward the short message to the MSC, subsequently the MSC will get the subscriber information from the VLR. After the MSC get the information, the MSC will forward the short message to the Mobile station.

At last, the MSC returns the result of the delivery report to the SMSC and then the SMSC will send the status report to the SME to notify the delivery status.

Model of Mobile-Originating Short Message

Figure 3 (IEC,2007)

Firstly, a short message is transferred from the MS to the MSC. After that the MSC will request the VLR to obtain the information about the subscriber.

Next, a forward Short Message operation is used to forward the SMS message from the MSC to SMSC, after that the SMSC will submit the SMS message to the SME.

At last, the SMSC will return the delivery report to the MSC, and the MSC will send the delivery report to the MS.

3.0 Advantages and Disadvantages of SMS

There are many advantages and disadvantages of SMS, in this chapter, the author will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of SMS.


As indicated by X.Meng et al(2006) one of the advantages of the SMS is no geographical constraints for exchanging the message with other user, which means by the user can send the message globally. In addition, most of the cellular networks can support the delivery and routing of SMS messages. Besides, the researchers also claimed that the store-and-forward communication model is similar to emails, in which the message will store in the server temporary and retransmitted later if the message cannot immediately reach the destination, rather than discarded the message.

A.Walsh(2009) also noted that the SMS is no geographical constraints, the users can send the SMS message wherever and whenever they please.Besides, SMS is able to send out messages to large number of people at a time, and integrate well with other system.

Zhang and Mao(2008), as cited by Phau and Teah(2009) claimed that SMS is usefulness, because the SMS can be apply in many field such as personal used, commercial and education. Besides, SMS is ease of use example like the user just has to click a few buttons and type the text then send out the message. SMS does not involve of complexity procedure. In addition, the researchers said that SMS is cost effectiveness because the cost of SMS is much cheaper than the cost of the phone call. Furthermore, SMS is ubiquity, user can send SMS on anytime and anywhere they like.SMS is effectiveness and reliable because of the guaranteed message delivery and the message usually will delivery to the destination in a short period of time.

Goh and Liew(2009) also agreed that user can texts to other mobile phone user worldwides which mean that SMS has no geographical limitation, the users can send a message to other user that located in different countries. Besides, researchers also agreed that the SMS is cost effectiveness, because the cost of the SMS is affordable for every mobile users.

In addition, Phau and Teah(2009) also stated that SMS is ease of use because the user does not need additional advanced knowledge on how to use SMS. Carla et al(2010) also noted that the SMS is ease of use because the way of using SMS is easy for people to learn.

Based on the statements of above, the author can conclude that the advantages of SMS includes guaranteed message delivery, reliable, cost effectiveness, ease of use, effectiveness, global reach and ubiquity.


SMS spam is one of the disadvantages of the SMS, which is mean the user will received many unwanted commercial advertisements through the SMS (Hidalgo et al,2005).While S. Herman also claimed that SMS spam is a disadvantages of the SMS. V.Cormack (2007) also indicated that the SMS spam will make the user feel frustrating.

A.Walsh(2009) noted that the disadvantages of SMS is the SMS massage could not be received or sent out if there is no signal or minimal signal of the mobile phone, because some of the mobile phone service provider might have limited coverage area for the signal.

Goh and Liew(2009) indicated that small and lower resolution screens that only can display few lines of texts at a time is the disadvantages of SMS. Besides, the input of text might be slow and more difficult compared to typing with a keyboard on a PC or laptop due to most mobile devices depends on numeric keypads that mapped with multiple characters for input the text.

According to the statements above, the author can noted that the disadvantages of the SMS includes SMS spam, signal depended, small and low resolution of screens for mobile phone and the input speed of text might be slower compare to input text with a keyboard on PC or Laptop.

4.0 SMS security

The privacy of the SMS content cannot be assured, because the SMS is sent as a plain text over the air due to no data encryption for protect the content that being sent. Therefore, the network operator's system or the operator is able to view the information and the data of the SMS messages. The SMS is not secure for send the private and confidential data unless solutions come out that fulfill the criteria such as integrity, confidentially, authentication and non-repudiation to solve the security issues of SMS technology. Authentication is concerned about contains of message will only received by the authorize user. Hence, the unauthorized persons cannot access to sensitive data. Confidentiality is about to make sure that only the sender and the recipient can view the content of message. Integrity is to ensure that the message's content is not been modified or changed during the transmission from the sender side to the recipient side. Such as change the amount of transaction when using the SMS to purchase or order something. Non repudiation is to preventing either one of the parties of the parties of a particular transaction does not admit the involvement in the transaction.

Furthermore concerned on SMS security is important for the service provider too, because if the services of SMS services provider being affected by the issues such as the subscriber often receiving the spamming message and the subscriber is difficult to send the message due to the quality of services is affected by the security issues. Therefore, the subscriber might subscribe the services from other service providers.

There are some SMS security threats that would affected the security and trusty of using SMS such as Message Disclosure, Contain Modification, Spamming and Flooding / Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks.

Message Disclosure

The SMS messages might easy to be snooped and interrupted when the SMS message is forward through the public network due to no encryption. Moreover, the contents of message are stored in the plain text form in the SMS Center while the message is unable to forward to the recipient. Therefore, the operator of the SMS Center is able to read or manipulate the contents of SMS.

Contain Modification

The SMS message contains might be modified by the third party easily when the message is delivering to the recipient. Example of contain modification includes the sums or account numbers in a bank transaction and alter stock information broadcasted to stock service subscribers, and change the message contains that may cause negative issues.


Spamming is the common issues because many of the organizations or marketers would use SMS as a marketing tool to deliver the promotion information to the consumer without the consent. In addition, the SMS message is allowed to send out a large amount of message at a time.

Flooding or Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

The issues of flooding or DoS attacks occur when a message is keep repeating to send to a recipient and cause the frustration of recipient mobile phone. Besides, the quality of service of the service provider will be affected if a large amount of message that keep repeating sending out in a short period.

4.1 Solution to overcome the SMS security issue: Message Disclosure, Contain Modification

In order to overcome the message disclosure issue, the author found that one of the Malaysia companies which is NSS MSC Sdn. Bhd is provides a solution named XMS Technology which is a software to protect the confidential data of the message being exchanged between the end users. XMS software may be installed in either Phone memory or Card memory of the mobile phone. XMS technology can assure the confidentiality, integrity and non repudiation. XMS adopts public key (PK) encryption standards which are required a Key pair generation algorithm, a ciphering-deciphering algorithm and hashing algorithm for ciphering .

Key-pair Generation

XMS technology uses Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC) to generate a key-pair and the method that used by the ECC to create a key-pair is public-key cryptography which is created by using the mathematics formula of the system. This function can ensure the message is only viewed by the authorized user.

Encryption (Ciphering-Deciphering)

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) which is a symmetric of 128-bit block data encryption is used by the XMS technology. XMS Mobile optionally allows users to select the size of key which are 128, 192 or 256-bits for encryption and this function can ensure the message is encrypted and not disclosed to other when the message is transmitting to the end user.


The Secure Hash Algorithm used by the XMS technology to convert the data of the message into the other format that difficult to be understanding by human, such as a word of hello will be convert to DQ234GC. This function can ensure the integrity of the message and prevent the modification of message by third party while the message is transmitting to the end user.

4.2 Solution to overcome the SMS security issue: Spamming, Flooding / Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

The author found out that the Tekelec Company has provided the solution known as SMS firewall to solve the Spamming, Flooding / Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, SMS Phone Crashes, SMS Viruses. This SMS firewall is implemented on the service provider's sides to protect the network and the services affected by the spamming and flooding.

(Tekelec, 2010, p.12)

The spamming issues can be solved by using SMS Firewall to interrupt the routing information request that created by a foreign or unknown SMS Center, the SMS Firewall will try to interrupt the message and check the similarity of the message headers and message content while the repeating message is transmitting from the foreign or unknown SMS Center to the recipient's network, the message will be dropped if the SMS Firewall detected a large amount of the messages is similar in the header and content that sending to a recipient. (Tekelec, 2010)


(Tekelec, 2010, p.13)

The flooding issues can be detected by the SMS Firewall flooding while the abrupt increases in traffic that generated from the same sender. A short and long term traffic average of a sender are regulated by the SMS Firewall flooding filter, the flooding is detected while the average rate of short term traffic beyond the long term traffic average and the short term traffic average is exceeds the flooding threshold. The condition of the flooding of the traffic would be remained until the short term traffic average is lower than the flooding threshold and the average of the long term traffic would not be updated when the flooding is detected. (Tekelec, 2010)

5.0 Adoption of SMS advertising

SMS advertising is considered as E-marketing which is means by use of electronic communication technology to achieve the marketing objective and it is also consider as direct marketing. SMS is widely used by many companies for advertising because the mobile phone has become very common tools that widely use around the world. According to the Dickinger et al.(2004), there are about 10 billion of SMS messages sent by the mobile phone users each month and it also resulting that SMS has become the most popular mobile data service. Therefore, SMS advertising can help to advertise to widest possible audience.

Enpocket, as cited by Bamba and Barnes(2006) that SMS advertising deliver a 15 per cent response rate, which also as twice of the response rate for the direct mail or e-mail. Besides, SMS advertising are more successful at building brand awareness than the radio and TV. Phau and Teah(2009) also agreed that the SMS advertising make higher response rates than the internet banner ads and direct mail

Bamba and Barnes(2006) noted that one of the advantages of the SMS advertising is the company can send the SMS advertising to the customer or consumer without to get permission from them. Therefore, SMS advertising is better than the other ways of advertising, such as phone call advertising, the consumer will usually deny or end-up the call before the staffs of the company promote their products. However, in some of the European countries, the advertisers are required to obtain the permission before they contacting to the customers especially via the e-mail or SMS due to the legislation of the country and because of sending SMS advertisements without the consent of the consumers is considered as a violation of privacy.

As indicated by Phau and Teah(2009),the advertiser use the SMS to updates the latest news about their company and keep in touch with the customers. Furthermore, some of the company's marketers send the coupon to the customer's mobile phones via SMS. For example, some company will send discount coupon for the customers who are birthday of the month to encourage the customer to use the coupon and purchase the products from the company.

Barnes, as cited by Phau and Teah(2009), the younger consumer market is easy to get attracted by SMS and the SMS is the preferred way to communicate with those younger consumer. Thus, the marketers are preferred to use SMS advertising as a marketing tool.

There are six ways of using SMS for advertising, such as special offers, promote products and services, voting, brand building and information requests.(Bamba and Barnes,2007)

However the Shintaro(2005) provided another six terms in using the SMS advertising which are Branding strategy, Facilitating conditions, Location-based services, Service costs, Regulatory control and Cultural barriers. The branding strategy is means by increase the awareness and brand recognize of customer. The facilitating is provides the basic infrastructure to enable consumers to send and receive the SMS messages. The Location-based services provides the promotional offers according to the customer based on the customer's location by using the global positioning system (GPS).Example like when the customer is reach the certain area, then the company can send SMS message to the customer about the information of the nearby restaurants. The Service costs is about to understand and choose the lower cost of SMS service provider for SMS advertising. The Regulatory control is about not violation of privacy of the customer, because it is serious concern for European legislatures. While the last term is Cultural barriers, the marketer or the advertiser have to know the culture of the target customer, and send the SMS advertisement that suit for the culture of the customer, because different countries have their own culture.

Based on the statements above, SMS advertising is a widely used in E-marketing.SMS advertising can help the company to achieve the marketing purposes such as promoting product, brand building, and maintain the relationship with the customer. Furthermore, there are several things that the advertiser or marketer have to consider when implements of SMS advertising as mentioned above.

6.0 Choosing the SMS service provider

There are several things that needed to be considered when choosing the SMS service provider such as:

The cost to send a SMS message

The monthly minimum usage requirement

The reliability of the SMS service provider

The author has chosen 3 service providers in Malaysia for the small businesses to compare the rate of SMS, which are Maxis,Digi and Celcom. The reason that the author choose these 3 service provider is because these 3 service provider are the top 3 communication service provider of Malaysia, therefore there are reliable and have the wide coverage over the Malaysia.


Figure 4 (Maxis, 2010)

The author has decides to select the BUSINESS VALUE PLUS 50 plan from the Maxis for the comparison, because this is the lowest minimum charge per month among the plan, thus it is suitable for the small business.

The figure 4 is the rates of the Value First plan from the Maxis. According to the figure 4, The SMS charge is RM0.05 per SMS for Maxis to Maxis and RM 0.15 per SMS for Maxis to others service provider and the minimum of monthly fees is RM 50.


Figure 5 (Digi,2010)

The author has decides to select the BIZ 25 plan from the Digi, because this plan is suitable for the small businesses and start ups.

The figure 5 is the rates of the BIZ plan from the Digi. According to the figure 5, the SMS charge is RM0.10 per SMS for send SMS to all network and the minimum of monthly fees is RM 25.


Figure 6 (Celcom,2010)

The author has decides to select the P 28 plan from the Celcom, because this plan is the lowest monthly charge rate that suitable for the small businesses.

The figure 6 is the rates for the P 28 plan from the Celcom. According to the figure 6, the SMS charge is RM0.02 per SMS for send SMS to Celcom network and RM 0.10 for SMS all network and the minimum of monthly fees is RM 28.


As a result, the author found that the celcom's plan P 28 is the lowest charge rate for the SMS, because the charge per SMS to the same network is just cost RM0.02 which is cheaper than the Maxis plan that cost RM 0.05 and Digi plan that cost RM 0.10. While for the SMS to other network is just cost RM 0.10 which is cheaper than the maxis SMS charge rate to other network which is RM 0.15.Therefore, the celcom's P 28 plan is the most suitable for the small businesses that newly implement the SMS in their business.

7.0 Send SMS Messages via a Computer

In this chapter, the author will introduce the technique of using a computer with the Mobile Phone or GSM/GPRS Modem to send SMS message. Besides, the author will implement this case study in the final year project which is restaurant system, because one of the features of the restaurant system is sending SMS notification of reservation as well as the latest promotion to the customer.

One of the ways of using computer to send SMS message is to use a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem that connected to the computer to serve as a transmitter to send the SMS message. A GSM/GPRS modem is a modem that used the wireless technology and the distinction of a wireless modem with the dial-up modem is that a wireless modem is transmits data via a wireless network while a dial-up modem is transmits data via a copper telephone line.

The AT commands are used as an instruction to manipulate the devices, the AT commands can be supported by mobile phones, GSM/GPRS modems and Dial-up modems. In addition, the AT commands can be used to control the sending and receiving SMS message of mobile phones or GSM/GPRS modems.

The table of below is the lists of the AT commands used to send message from a computer:

7.1 Step to send a SMS via computer

The author is using the Nokia N73 to serve as a transmitter for send SMS from a computer.

First of all, the mobile phone is required to insert a valid SIM card that subscribe from the service provider. After that, connect the mobile phone to the computer via either a USB cable or Bluetooth link, based on the capability of the mobile phone and computer.

After connecting a mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem to a computer, open the HyperTerminal program in the computer and give a name for the connection. Example: sendSMS.

After that, choose a port that connected to the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem and then press OK button. The ports can be checked in the Device Manager of the computer.

Subsequently, choose the restore defaults button to use the default setting and press Ok button when the port setting window will prompt out.

A command window till be displayed after the basic setting. First of all, type the AT and press enter to test the connection and the mobile phone or GSM/GPRS modem will send back the reply code "OK".

After that, enter the AT command AT+CREG? to test whether the SMS text mode is supported by the mobile phone or not. Type in the AT+CMGF = 1 to instruct the mobile phone to function in SMS text mode. If the result code "OK" is returned, which is mean successful to operate in SMS text mode. If the mobile phone that used does not support the SMS text mode, the HyperTerminal will display the Error code.

After that type the AT commands AT+CMGS= "key in the phone number of recipient" then press enter and the symbol of > will appear in new line. Subsequently, type the message that wants to be sent. After that press ctrl+z and the symbol of arrow will appear → .If the response "OK" which is resulting the SMS is successfully sent out.

8.0 Conclusion

SMS is a communication technology that very popular and common is used by the people nowadays. The SMS technology has bring a lot of benefit to the people such as can communicate with other people that from different places, served as a marketing tool that for the organization to use it to achieve the marketing purpose.

The organization can adopt the SMS technology into their business, especially for the small businesses company, because the SMS is reliable, cost effectiveness, global reach and ubiquity. Therefore, SMS can help the company to achieve the mission and goal as well as to maintain the relationship with the customer. Besides, the company has to consider the few term as mentioned in the adoption of SMS advertising chapter.

In addition, the business company should make some consideration and planning for choose the best service provider for them to implement the SMS technology into their business, as well as the ways of implement it.

However, SMS has some disadvantages such as signal dependent, small and low resolution of screens for mobile phone and the input speed of text might be slower compare to input text with a keyboard on PC or Laptop and some security issues that need to be concerned before implement SMS in the businesses.

Furthermore, encryption technology should be used to encrypt the message when the confidential data or information that need to exchange between businesses companies in order to avoid the confidential data being explored by the third parties.

The author believes that the SMS technology will be further enhance in the future and the limitation of SMS can be solved in order to provide more benefit to the mobile users.