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What is a Short Message Service Center?

By Jessica Reed
Updated May 16, 2024
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A short message service center, or SMSC for short, is responsible for accepting text messages and sending them on to the intended recipient. The center deals with the text message part of a wireless network. The text may come from a cell phone or by other means, such as a program on a computer, but will always go to an SMSC for processing.

Text messages provide a quick and convenient way to send short messages without needing to make an actual phone call. These messages also go by the name SMS messages, in which SMS stands for short message service. SMS is the service which makes sending and receiving text messages possible.

When a user sends a text message, it first goes to a short message service center for processing. The message contains data about what it says and where it needs to go. The center then sends the message on to the recipient’s cell phone or to another SMSC which continues to pass it down the line until it reaches the right phone. If the person receiving the message has her phone turned off or another problem prevents the message from getting through, the message remains at an SMSC until the phone can accept it.

Users have control over the text messages they send and how a short message service center handles them. The user can change settings on the phone so he receives a message when the text message is successfully delivered. He can also set the message to delete itself if it stays in the center for a certain period of time without reaching its destination. This prevents a message from sitting indefinitely at an SMSC if something happens to the recipient’s phone and it is never able to accept the message.

The way SMSCs work in regulating and passing along text messages is comparable to how a computer user accesses the web through an Internet service provider (ISP). When the user requests a web page, the computer sends a request through the network until it finds the web page. The web page information then travels back through the network to the user’s computer and displays on the monitor. Text messaging works much the same and the short message service centers form the network through which messages must travel while cell phones represent the individual computers sending and receiving messages.

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