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Author Topic: I want to send messages to mobile phones.. what do I need?  (Read 22897 times)
SMS Forum Support
SMS Forum Support
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« on: October 02, 2005, 11:38:31 UTC »

Before you go any further..
Rule #1.. you have to pay.. don't look for free lunches.. they don't exist, when they do, its usually illegal and due to someone hacking a script etc. If you want to send SMS messages, then you must pay to do so.

Below are some options you can avail of to send messages...

Direct to Carrier
A lot of people, rather naively think that they can go to a carrier and insist they they send messages directly into their network. Most of these people begin their queries with.. "I'm new to SMS..." and thats where the carrier stops listening.

Carriers deal with multi-millions of messages per day.. same applies with phone calls and data rates. They don't normally see value in talking to small service providers for what typically turns out to be relatively low revenue rates. They also only want to work with established professional businesses and not indivuduals who don't have the credentials.

So, our advice is simple.. unless your idea is the size of something like Big Brother, Pop Idol etc.. i.e something that has the potential of millions of premium-rate SMS votes etc., then forget the carrier.

SMS Gateway providers, a.k.a. clearing houses
These services are typically professionally managed operations with good relations to carriers. They have large volume message rates direct to various regional or international carriers and then resell this access to smaller service providers using interfaces such as SMPP, UCP, email, web and more.

You typically set up an account that provides you with a certain volume of messages with certain costs per message etc. You also can opt for just sending, receiving or both and can avail of proper short codes or short code ranges, sometimes called dynamic short codes.

Carriers have warmed to these providers over time as they help abstract the carrier from the overheads of governing the clients.. be aware that in many countries, its just illegal to spam people with unsolicited SMS.. so these providers can manage their clients and prevent such behaviour by cancelling access if the client mis-behaves.

This forum is non-commercial, we don't pitch for any of these services, but we are aware that there some really bad ones out there and some excellent services. So google wisely and seek advice. Also take a look at the Services Offered/Required board on this forum for rants and raves about some of these services.

GSM Modem
The simplest way to send an SMS to a subscriber is from another phone.

To do this from an application, you need a dedicated GSM modem or standard phone with suitable data cable, Infrared or Bluetooth Interace that facilitates a modem function supporting AT commands, specifically the SMS set.

Your computer then interfaces over a serial port to the attached phone or modem and uses AT command extensions to send SMS messages.

What you need:
  • GSM Modem or phone with serial cable, IRDB or Bluetooth interface
  • Computer capable of interfacing with modem (via serial port, IRDB etc.)
  • Prepaid or contract SIM card for the modem/phone (otherwise it won't send messages)
  • Knowhow on how to talk to the device over a serial interface or just try to use gnokii (see below)

The advantage of implementing this solution is that you can put your service live without going through any red tape with carriers and gateway providers. Your message sending costs are based on standard per-message rates that a normal subscriber pays. Revenue collection (i.e charging for your service) is your problem.. because without any formal carrier interaction, you would need to do this billling via independent credit card services etc.

The main disadvantage of this method, is that its slow and will typically take 2 seconds or more per sent message. Also, the source address of the messages is fixed to the modem/phones SIM card MSISDN. The recipient sees messages from another subscriber number and not a short code. There is no way to change this number so don't ask if its possible!

To see some details on the GSM AT Spec, see:

also.. take a look at Gnokii (www.gnokii.org). Gnokii is a multi-platform tool that can drive GSM modems/phones from a command-line utility. This can be easily scripted or executed from CGI  etc.. to tie in with a full software solution for automation etc.. using gnokii avoids having to code AT commands yourself, with the exception of configuring the tool to connect to your modem/phone.

There are applications out there that provide GUI and batch consoles for sending messages etc. and some of these use attached GSM modems.. We don't push commercial products on this forum.. so google and you shall find!
« Last Edit: October 02, 2005, 11:47:45 UTC by [email protected] » Logged

   Cormac Long
   Webmaster & Technical Enquiry Moderator,
   SMS Forum

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