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SMS Encoding

What is SMS Encoding?

SMS encoding refers to the act of transforming a text message into a form that can be transmitted to the carrier companies. It ensures that the text message is actually rendered at the recipient’s end as was intended by the sender.

SMS encoding is important to preserve the sanctity of the SMS that you wish to send.

For example, without encoding, if you use anything other than the basic English text characters, like ‘å’, it might not display as intended for the SMS recipient.

To avoid such situations, SMS encoding encodes the data that you enter, transmits it, and decodes it at the recipient’s end to ensure that the recipient views it exactly the way you typed your SMS.

What Encoding Standards do we use?

MainBrainer uses the encoding standards – GSM-7 and UCS-2 to encode and send the SMSs. The encoding standards also determine the maximum number of characters that can be used in an SMS.

Before we delve into MainBrainer’s approach to encoding messages, let’s have a look at what these encoding standards mean:

  1. GSM-7 – The GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is the standard encoding system used worldwide due to its performance and universality. It uses 7 bits to send a single character/symbol on GSM networks.
  2. UCS-2 – The Universal Coded Character Set (UCS, Unicode) is the encoding system used if characters in the message cannot be encoded using the GSM-7 standards. It uses 16 bits to send a single character.

What Difference do the Encoding Standards Make to Your SMS?

The type of encoding standards used determines the maximum number of characters that can be sent in a single SMS.

  • When using GSM-7 encoding, the maximum SMS length is capped at 160 characters.
  • When using UCS-2 encoding, the maximum SMS length is capped at 70 characters.

How do we encode the SMSs?

When you send an SMS in MainBrainer, we use the most compact encoding possible for your message text.

  • If you use only GSM-7 characters in your SMS text, we will encode your message using GSM-7 so that your SMS can include the maximum number of characters possible. The maximum allowed SMS length, in this case, would therefore be 160 characters.
  • If you include a non-GSM-7 character in your SMS text, the entire message will be encoded using UCS-2. The maximum allowed SMS length, in this case, would therefore be 70 characters.

What Happens When the Message Length Exceeds the Maximum Character Limits?

A message longer than the above-specified limits will be split into multiple parts, and you will be billed for each part separately. Also, in that case, each individual part can contain a maximum of 153 characters in the case of GSM encoding and a maximum of 67 characters in the case of UCS-2 encoding.

When using our dashboard, the length of your message in characters and the number of SMSs it would consume are displayed as you type in the message text.

Note: We recommend that you send a test SMS before sending your SMS campaign as some characters may not work for some mobile carriers or countries. For example, the Euro currency sign does not work for some countries and for some mobile carrier companies.