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Mobile Video and the Connection between Short Message System (SMS) and Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), and the Progress Toward Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

Exchanging text messages, technically identified as Short Message System (SMS), but also acknowledged as “texting”, is a uncomplicated, effortless, and convenient manner to correspond among mobile phones.  Not just a exceptional means for people to correspond, SMS texting can be a practical system for software programs to exchange simple messages, and even settings commands, to and from  cell phones.  SMS texting does not need a direct connection between cell phones; the communications infrastructure for the system is already prepared, and it functions across most cellular networks. One aspect of SMS messaging that makes it particularly useful for mobile software programs is that it relies on mobile phone fixed identity, the phone number. This aspect makes available a unique benefit over other technologies that utilize IP addresses because a mobile phone IP address can vary depending on current network.

Short Message Service (SMS) is a communication service component of the GSM mobile communication system.  It utilizes standardized communications rules that allow the exchange of short text messages between cell phones. SMS texting is the most widely used data application in the world, boasting almost two and a half billion active users, or almost 75% of all mobile phone subscribers.

SMS texting as used on modern mobiles was at first included as part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) series of standards in 1985  as a system of sending texts of up to 160 characters, to and from GSM mobile handsets.  Since then service support has extended to include other mobile technology 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.  Computer to cell phone SMS capabilities are also growing rapidly.

GSM was originally known as Groupe Spécial Mobile.  It is the most accepted standard for mobile telephone systems on earth. The GSM Association, the promoting industry organization of mobile phone carriers and manufacturers, estimates that approximately 80% of the world mobile market uses the standard.  GSM is enjoyed by over 3 billion people across more than 212 countries and territories.  Its ubiquity  allows international roaming agreements between mobile phone carriers, offering subscribers the use of their smartphones all over the world.  GSM has evolved from its forerunner technologies demonstrated by the fact that both signaling and speech channels are digital.  Thus GSM is considered a second generation (2G) mobile phone system.  Additionally, this  facilitates the extensive implementation of data communication software.

Recent versions of the standard are backward-compatible with the initial GSM system.  Release ’97 of the standard upgraded to packet data capabilities using General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). Release ’99 introduced high speed data transmission through Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE).

General packet radio service (GPRS) is a packet oriented mobile data service available to users of the 2G and 3G GSM. In 2G systems.  GPRS data transfer is typically billed per megabyte of traffictransferred, while data transfer using traditional circuit switching is billed per unit of connection time, without consideration of whether or not the user actually is transmitting or if it is in an idle state. GPRS is a best-effort packet switched service, as opposed to circuit switching, that has assured quality of service during the connection for non-mobile users.

2G cellular systems in combination with GPRS are often called 2.5G.  2.5G is a technology bridge transitioning between the second (2G) and third (3G) generations of smartphone telephony. It delivers moderate-speed data transfer, by using unused time division multiple access (TDMA) channels. Initially it was intended to extend GPRS to cover other standards, but these networks are converting to the GSM standard.   GPRS is integrated into GSM Release 97 and newer releases.

GPRS was developed as a GSM reaction to the earlier CDPD and i-mode packet switched cellular technology.  Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) was a wide-area mobile data service which used unused bandwidth normally used by AMPS mobile phones.  It was dropped in conjunction with the retirement of the parent AMPS service.

CDPD was developed in the early 1990’s, and was seen as a future technology. However, it had competition from existing slower but cheaper Mobitex and DataTac systems.  CDPD never gained common acceptance before newer, faster standards such as GPRS earned widespread acceptance and became dominant.

For consumers CDPD had very limited appeal.  AT&T Wireless initially offered the technology in the America under the brandname PocketNet, one of the very first consumer wireless web service offers. Cingular Wireless later offered CDPD under the Wireless Internet brand (as opposed to Wireless Internet Express, Cingular Wireless GPRS/EDGE data). AT&T Wireless PocketNet failed as a product launch.  But, CDPD was adopted into a number of enterprise and government networks.  It was particularly successful as a first-generation wireless data solution for telemetry devices (machine to machine communications) and for public safety mobile data terminals.

Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) (also called Enhanced GPRS (EGPRS), or IMT Single Carrier (IMT-SC), and Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) is a backward-compatible digital cell phone technology that allows superior data transmission rates on top of standard GSM.  EDGE is considered a 3G radio technology.  EDGE supplies  more than three-fold increase in both the capacity and performance of GSM/GPRS networks by using advanced techniques of coding and transmitting data, that deliver higher bit-rates per radio channel.  EDGE delivers broadband performance and can be used for high bandwidth data applications such as Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

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