Messaging Interoperability SMS & MMS

Text Messaging Interoperability (Short Message Service, or SMS)

CTIA has played an important role in helping the wireless industry achieve the goal of universal interoperability for messaging. Today, any U.S. wireless subscriber can send a text message to any other wireless subscriber simply by texting to the user's 10-digit telephone number. There are no applications to download, and no additional identifiers needed besides the telephone number. 

The ability of wireless consumers to exchange messages among users of all wireless networks is called "interoperability," and it began with a historic meeting in Las Vegas on October 25, 2001. At that meeting, a number of participating wireless carriers agreed to work together to make texting another wireless subscriber as universally easy as making a voice call to another wireless subscriber. The ultimate result of that meeting was the publication of CTIA InterCarrier Messaging Guidelines Version 1.0, which set forth best practices for interoperability. Version 2.0, released in January of 2009, broadened the scope of the guidelines to include landline telephone devices that sent and received text messages. 

Shortly after Version 2.0 was released, new IP-based services began to emerge that allowed telephone numbers from cloud-based messaging services to interoperate with wireless subscribers. Version 3.0 of the Guidelines expanded the inter-carrier messaging guidelines to enable seamless messaging between wireless operators' customers and those of non-wireless service providers, whether device-based or virtual in nature. Recommendations for protection against spam and other unwanted messages were strengthened in this version as well. Given the rapid pace of change, two revised versions that reflected recent developments were released in quick succession and the working group was expanded to ensure that all service providers—whether wireless carriers or IP-based providers—were represented. The current version 3.2.2, now renamed CTIA SMS Interoperability Guidelines, was adopted in January, 2015. 

CTIA SMS Interoperability Guidelines Version 3.2.2  PDF icon

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) Interoperability

In October of 2004, CTIA published Version 1.0 of Inter-Carrier MMS Messaging Guidelines, to help facilitate interoperability among messages that included not just text, but pictures, video clips, audio files, etc. as content. As with the SMS guidelines, the evolution of wireless network capabilities called for revisions to the MMS guidelines. The current version of the CTIA MMS Interoperability Guidelines was also adopted in January, 2015.

CTIA MMS Interoperability Guidelines Version 3.0.2  PDF icon

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