Short Message Service (SMS) is the text communication service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems, using standardized communications protocols that allow the exchange of short text messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices. SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application in the world, with 2.4 billion active users, or 74% of all mobile phone subscribers.The term SMS is used as a synonym for all types of short text messaging as well as the user activity itself in many parts of the world.
SMS as used on modern handsets was originated from radio telegraphy in radio memo pagers using standardized phone protocols and later defined as part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) series of standards in 1985 as a means of sending messages of up to 160 characters, to and from GSM mobile handsets. Since then, support for the service has expanded to include other mobile technologies such as ANSI CDMA networks and Digital AMPS, as well as satellite and landline networks. Most SMS messages are mobile-to-mobile text messages though the standard supports other types of broadcast messaging as well
The idea of adding text messaging to the services of mobile users was not frequent in many communities of mobile communication services at the beginning of the 1980s. The first action plan of the CEPT Group GSM, approved in December 1982, requested "The services and facilities offered in the public switched telephone networks and public data networks... should be available in the mobile system".This target includes the exchange of text messages either directly between mobile stations, or transmitted via Message Handling Systems widely in use since the beginning of the 1980s.
The SMS concept was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert.The innovation in SMS is Short. The GSM is optimized for telephony, since this was identified as its main application. The key idea for SMS was to use this telephony-optimized system, and to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephony traffic during time periods when no signaling traffic existed. In this way, unused resources in the system could be used to transport messages at minimal cost. However, it was necessary to limit the length of the messages to 128 bytes (later improved to 140 bytes, or 160 seven-bit characters) so that the messages could fit into the existing signaling formats.
This concept allowed SMS to be implemented in every mobile station by updating its software. This concept was instrumental for the implementation of SMS in every mobile station ever produced and in every network from early days. Hence, a large base of SMS capable terminals and networks existed when the users began to utilize the SMS. A new network element required was a specialized short message service center, and enhancements were required to the radio capacity and network transport infrastructure to accommodate growing SMS traffic.
In 2008, 4.1 trillion SMS text messages were sent. SMS has become a massive commercial industry, worth over 81 billion dollars globally as of 2006. The global average price for a SMS message is 0.11 USD, while mobile networks charge each other interconnect fees of at least $0.04US when connecting between different phone networks. SMS is relatively popular in India,Europe, Asia, Australia and in North America. SriLanka also has many SMS systems. Some are freely available.