Short message service center

A short message service center (SMSC) is a network element in the mobile telephone network. Its purpose is to store, forward, convert and deliver SMS messages.

The full designation of an SMSC according to 3GPP is Short Message Service – Service Center (SMS-SC)

Basic Trajectories of SMS are

  1. From Mobile to another Mobile, this trajectory is referred as MO-MT (Mobile Originated – Mobile Terminated)
  2. From Mobile to a content provider (also called as Large Account / ESME), this trajectory is referred as MO-AT (Mobile Originated – Application Terminated)
  3. From Application to a Mobile, this trajectory is referred as AO-MT (Application Originated – Mobile Terminated)



The tasks of an SMSC can be described as

  1. Reception of text messages (SMS) from wireless network users
  2. Storage of text messages
  3. Forwarding of
  4. Delivery of text messages (SMS) to wireless network users
  5. Maintenance of unique time stamps in text messages

When a user sends a text message (SMS message) to another user, the message gets stored in the SMSC (short message service center) which delivers it to the destination user when they are available. This is a store and forward option.

An SMS center (SMSC) is responsible for handling the SMS operations of a wireless network.

  1. When an SMS message is sent from a mobile phone, it will reach an SMS center first.
  2. The SMS center then forwards the SMS message towards the destination.
  3. The main duty of an SMSC is to route SMS messages and regulate the process. If the recipient is unavailable (for example, when the mobile phone is switched off), the SMSC will store the SMS message.
  4. It will forward the SMS message when the recipient is available or when the message’s expiry period is exceeded.

Validity period of an SMS message

An SMS message is stored temporarily in the SMS center if the recipient mobile phone is unavailable. It is possible on most mobile handset to specify an expiry period after which the SMS message will be deleted from the SMS center. Once deleted, the SMS message will no longer be available for dispatch to the recipient mobile phone (even if it becomes online). The validity period should be regarded by the handset user as a request, as the SMSC itself can be configured to ignore or otherwise handle message delivery schedules.

Message status reports

The SMS sender needs to set a flag in the SMS message to notify the SMS center that he wants the status report about the delivery of this SMS message. This status report is sent to the SMS sender in the form of an SMS.