Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)

MMS versus SMS

Text messaging is one of the most popular communication methods, especially for younger mobile phone users. Around the world, mobile phone users exchange millions of messages on any given day. In addition to simple text messages, mobile phone users also send and receive messages with pictures, videos and other digital content. Two of the most common messaging types are SMS and MMS messages. An alternative to calling, text messages are a useful tool to communicate from a mobile device when voice communication is not possible or desired. Text messaging is also often a more affordable alternative, with SMS and MMS messages typically costing users less than voice calls.

Standard Message Service

Standard Message Service (SMS) capability was first developed in the 1980s as a means to send short text messages between mobile phones. SMS is one of the most popular messaging applications in the world. It is also a popular direct marketing tool for companies and organisations to reach the public.

SMS messages are also commonly known as a text message or text. SMS allows users to send and receive text messages of up to 160 characters. The number of characters may be further limited by the device or the mobile phone service provider. SMS messages are sent to and from fixed line and mobile phone devices using standardised communications protocols.

Multimedia Messaging Service

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is an extension of the core capability of a SMS. A MMS is a message that includes multimedia content in addition to text. Multimedia content may include a digital photograph, audio or video. They may also be used to send news and entertainment messages with multimedia content, as well as ringtones.

Like a SMS message, a MMS message is sent to and from mobile phones. MMS capability is often found on mobile phones with built-in digital cameras. In order to receive a MMS message, both the sending and receiving device must be MMS capable. Receiving handsets must support incoming MMS messages.

Comparing SMS and MMS Messages

One of the main differences between MMS and SMS is the method messages are transmitted. Incoming and outgoing SMS and MMS messages are sent to service providers' message centres. Once in message centres, how the message is processed and forwarded differs. A SMS message is sent to a Short Message Service Centre (SMSC), which stores and forwards the message. The SMSC will attempt to send messages until it is delivered using a queue. When a MMS message is sent, the sending device encodes the multimedia content, similar to how an email is sent. The message is then forwarded from the device to a mobile phone carrier's store and forward service, which is also known as the MMSC or the Multimedia Message Service Centre. If the receiving phone is registered with a different service provider, the message is forwarded to the other carrier using the Internet.

MMS messages are more prone to adaptation and compatibility issues than SMS messages. When using certain handsets, MMS message may not be viewable if the receiving device is not compatible. Content may also not be adaptable to certain mobile devices, making it difficult to view incoming images or files. Both MMS and SMS messages are prone to spamming, which are unsolicited promotional messages.

Both types of messages offers users varying degrees of functionality. Sending bulk messages and using distribution lists may be difficult when using MMS messages. It is typically easier for users to send a message to multiple recipients using SMS since there are no capability issues and the use of distribution lists not a problem. Since MMS messages are sent via the Internet and there are no limitations to the length of the message, users can send additional content with a MMS in comparison to a SMS. In addition to audio, video and picture files, a MMS can include can include longer text messages.