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Why SMS if we have GPRS Table of Contents


Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. GPRS and SMS as Bearer Services

2.1 The Perfect Bearer: GPRS

2.2 The Attractive Bearer: SMS

3.Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

3.1 Bearer Selection Considerations

3.2 Revealing SMS Attractiveness

Why SMS if we have GPRS Preface

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is expected to drastically change the mobile tele
communication services landscape when it becomes deployed and widely available. It is
generally understood to initially be an overlay network on existing, circuit-switched GSM
networks, offering a migration path towards 3rd Generation Networks.

GPRS seems ideally suited for delivering internet-based, value-added services to mobile
subscribers. Yet it appears, too, that focusing on GPRS, network operators and service
providers might overlook an existing, low-cost bearer that offers such a service
platform: SMS.

This document is intended for network operators and service providers. It helps position
SMS particularly in GPRS networks, and it aims at raising the awareness of possibilities
offered by SMS.

The reader is presented with a view on how SMS-based value-added services can be
created now and ported to the GPRS future, using a proven technology as a highly
attractive commercial option, while protecting all investments in network infrastructure
and service applications.
Why SMS if we have GPRS Executive Summary

Executive Summary

GPRS is set to drastically change the market for services offered to mobile subscribers.
However, no technology is successful without the availability of attractive subscriber
services that make use of that technology. For mobile network operators, success is
measured in direct and indirect revenue, generated by subscriber’s use of such services.

We at Logica strongly believe that Short Message Service will not only remain an
attractive revenue source in GPRS networks, but that GPRS will boost SMS usage for a
variety of reasons:

• GPRS helps overcome current SMS deficiencies with respect to latency, throughput
and radio resource usage efficiency, delivering short messages as packetised data.

• GPRS, together with sophisticated network signalling procedures, permits quick and
reliable content delivery, corresponding to a Mobile Web Page, in one single transaction,
provided the appropriate Short Message Service Centre support is available.

• Arrival of GPRS-based services will require appropriate subscriber notifications via


• Short Messaging as such is the first, instantly available service for GPRS, with GPRS
helping to handle the rapidly growing SMS traffic.

• SMS is particularly attractive in initial GPRS deployments due to:

• limited GPRS network coverage (“GPRS islands”).

• handset availability and cost,

• initial, low GPRS data rates, significantly reducing the theoretical

throughput advantage of GPRS,

• the ability to quickly and cheaply offer value-added services based on SMS
(and SMS over GPRS) to pre-paid subscribers.

• SMS offers a value-added service platform at a low total cost, reaching an unrivalled
subscriber base of practically 100%.
Rather than comparing SMS and GPRS, one should consider them as perfect
complements. The appropriateness and suitability of a bearer service is determined by
user needs in the specific paradigm of mobile networks: As an example, SMS or SMS
over GPRS will fully satisfy a customer’s request for coordinates of a local restaurant,
while GPRS is required if the respective user also wants to see a short movie showing
how, by whom and for whom the food is being served.

Operators availing of Logica’s Telepath SMSC can build on their existing messaging
infrastructure to deploy revenue-generating services right now, whilst protecting their
investment in the uncertain future. Our customers can be assured that unique Telepath
SMSC features like

• an additional messaging mode optimised for content delivery via SMS, which
eliminates the latency inherent to the store-and-forward functionality,

• advanced functionality enabling a variety of pre-paid solutions for content delivery.

• full WAP, GSM Phase 2+ and GPRS support will help them stay ahead of
competition at any time.
Why SMS if we have GPRS GPRS and SMS as Bearer Services

GPRS and SMS as Bearer Services

2.1 The Perfect Bearer: GPRS

Information delivery to mobile subscribers should be fast, cost-effective, reliable and

network resource-efficient. GPRS is commonly attributed with all of these properties.
The packet data traffic channel (PDCH) is only occupied when data is being transmitted,
the Layer 3 message length extends to 1500 octets, the latency of 20 ms is relatively low
and the data rates possible seem to be sufficient. GPRS is regarded as the perfect bearer
for Internet access
2.2 The Attractive Bearer: SMS

Presenting the bare technical facts of SMS does not fully reveal the attractiveness of SMS
as a platform for deployment of value-added services. In circuit-switched environment,
only signalling channels are used for message delivery (SDCCH or SACCH), providing
bit rates of 660/150 bit/s (SDCCH/SACCH respectively), with a maximum Layer 3
message length of 140 octets.

However, SMS offers store-and-forward capability, full teleservice characteristics

permitting direct content presentation to the user, and is available both in GPRS and non-
GPRS networks or coverage areas. Short messages delivered via GPRS may be
considered as additionally encoded data, reaching the user as packets over PDCH. The
message length limitation can be overcome through Segmentation and Re-assembly
functionality in the SMSC supported in Logica’s Telepath SMSC. The segmented data
can be delivered within one transaction, but in multiple, concatenated short messages.

The following figures show schematically how information may be delivered to mobile
subscribers using SMS as a bearer in a GPRS network.
Why SMS if we have GPRS Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

3.1 Bearer Selection Considerations

Content providers and operators are keen on offering information already available on the
Internet to mobile users. However, some constraints related to the size and capabilities of
mobile stations are likely to impede direct Internet access even using GPRS handsets.
The datarates initially offered may also lag behind expectations. Gateway nodes between
Internet and GPRS networks or microbrowsers for GPRS phones or both are required.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), widely accepted and endorsed by all major players
in the mobile telecommunications arena, allows for delivering web pages to mobile
devices. The web pages usually have to be adapted by a WAP gateway. WAP defines a
variety of bearers, including SMS and GPRS, or SMS over GPRS.

Users may request certain, chargeable information, using SMS-MO, a circuit-switched

data call or an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data transaction. Content delivery
would be carried out in several mobile-terminated short messages, within only one
network and air interface transaction. Even if GPRS is the bearer of choice for content
delivery, SMS may be used to reliably notify users about certain conditions, prompting
them to request a service.

Depending on the operator or the service provider choice, the SIM cards may be modified
to present the SM contents to the user appropriately, e.g. through a WAP-enabled

Even considering the industry’s ability to offer technically advanced products at

drastically reduced prices, it will take some time before the GPRS target changes from an
early-adopter market segment to a mass-market.
Why SMS if we have GPRS Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

3.2 Revealing SMS Attractiveness

While the appropriate GPRS-enabled equipment is currently not available, the market for
value-added services is there instantly, as is a popular bearer, SMS. Whilst first GPRS
deployments are expected in the second half of 2000, SMS, which is experiencing
dramatic growth throughout the world, is available virtually everywhere. Using SMS as a
platform for deployment of value-added services offers numerous advantages to network
operators, service providers, content providers and users.

• Immediate service deployment

Services deployed now are instantly available to all users and could generate revenues to
compensate for the initial investments. These service deployments are future-safe, since
SMS can be used in GPRS networks, with an even greater delivery efficiency, success
rate and speed.

• Service continuation and migration

Service continuation in GPRS networks is guaranteed: once a gateway node and an

SMSC have been installed and services deployed, the contents and the service no longer
require any adaptations to the network technology used. In fact, the bearer used may be
transparent to a WAP-based application Infrastructure inventory.
Why SMS if we have GPRS Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

Investment in SMS infrastructure helps to cope with the currently growing SMS traffic,
While also offering the scalability required when value-added services become even
more widely accepted. The market for low-cost messaging services is expected to still
be served by SMS in GPRS phase 2 networks, providing a continued need for SMS
infrastructure. So varying operator requirements can be fulfilled with the SMS
infrastructure available.

• Technology-independent applications

Content and service providers benefit from the SMS availability in different networks:
contents provision and adaptation is required once, with the service being independent of
the underlying network technology. This may be important if due to regulatory issues,
coverage aspects, visited network capabilities or further reasons, certain other bearers
(circuit-switched data, GPRS, High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data) are not available, and
yet common look-and-feel value-added services are to be offered.

• Store-and-forward capability combined with a choice of delivery mode

Logica’s Telepath SMSC offers a choice of delivery modes to fulfill possible

requirements of a variety of applications. Secured delivery can be availed of. The store-
and-forward capability, essential for messaging services, offers advantages when SMS is
used for more mission-critical content delivery. Logica’s Telepath SMSC also offers the
unique advantage of Express message delivery mode, permitting extremely high message
Throughput and eliminating the latency associated with the store-and-forward feature, yet
Providing a certain level of guarantee through its transient storage and short-term retry
Functionality. Therefore, short-term delivery problems are efficiently dealt with in cases
Where a longer-term storage is not required due to the nature of the content.

• Short Messaging and Multimedia Messaging as GPRS Applications

The arrival of GPRS greatly helps to handle the increasing traffic load. In initial GPRS
Deployments SMS may prove to be the most popular application, with operators
Deliberately diverting SMS traffic to GPRS network in order to achieve a balanced
network Load. Also, considering the popularity of SMS among young users it is likely
that multimedia Messaging will be widely accepted, contributing to further growth of
SMS traffic.
Why SMS if we have GPRS Advantages of SMS as VAS Platform

The ability to dynamically choose GPRS or a circuit-switched bearer based on actual

network conditions, thus offering a higher level of guarantee, may be regarded as the key
advantage of SMS. Otherwise this issue would have to be addressed within the
application, unnecessarily increasing its complexity.

Service definition may include a content-dependent bearer selection or a bearer escalation

according to the bearers available. Whilst SMS or SMS over GPRS would usually satisfy
service requirements, GPRS may be used directly if it is required and available. The
following figure 3-1 shows the shift in the SMS role model, using the analogy of a bus
and a fast train as a means of transport. The SMS “bus” is loaded onto a GPRS “train” be
cause it is faster, but uses normal roads where no train is available.
Why SMS if we have GPRS conclusions


When defining, creating and deploying value-added services, several bearers have
to be considered. Depending on service characteristics and requirements, some
may be more or less suited than others. Logica’s product portfolio reflects the
strong belief in multiple bearers for different purposes. Particularly, SMS is
seemed to supplement GPRS and viewed as a complement to GPRS. GPRS does
not offer a replacement for SMS, nor does it diminish SMS importance in mobile
networks. Furthermore, as the SMSCs will generally evolve into Multimedia
Message Centres tailored to specific needs of mobile users, the investment in
SMS-related infrastructure is protected even better.

Logica’s Telepath SMSC already addresses the issues related to SMS usage for
value-added services, offering e.g. WAP support and further features both at the
application and the network side. Any applications destined for immediate
deployment can be easily ported to GPRS networks.

Awaiting GPRS, it is possible to start trials or commercial services now.

Information transfer via SMS is viable with Logica’s Telepath SMSC, through
features like:

• Express and Premium messaging modes, providing for the right balance between
performance and delivery guarantee.

• Support of WAP as a widely accepted application standard, endorsed by all

major players in the mobile telecommunications arena.

• GSM Phase 2+ support, including full GPRS support, making it future-proof.

The short message delivery path will change with the arrival of GPRS, increasing
the delivery success rate, reducing delivery time, but, because the same SMS is
used, there is no effect on the service itself or the possible presentation to the user.
The entire service environment remains unaffected by network enhancements and
does not need to change because of GPRS.
GPRS helps to overcome current SMS limitations with regards to data rates,
offering fast short message delivery as packetised data, supported by sophisticated
signalling procedures in the core network.

In conclusion, SMS and GPRS are perfect complements, SMS for the breadth of services
it offers and its unrivalled availability, GPRS for its improved performance.
Logica’s Telepath SMSC enables all the advantages of SMS over GPRS, whilst
building upon your existing investment in Value-Added Services.