The special case of special characters: How to prevent losing half the available SMS characters

The special case of special characters: How to prevent losing half the available SMS characters

Before the age of Twitter introduced the limiting of messages to 140 characters, people were always talking about another number: 160. Just a little reminder: this is the number of characters that fit into a regular SMS – providing that it has been coded according to the GSM-7-Bit-alphabet which is common in Europe. Ever since SMS flat rates and messenger services have become standard practice for mobile phone users, this limit hardly matters for private use. This is, however, entirely different for M2M and Industry 4.0 communication. Here, the established SMS standard is employed whenever IT and production systems send an automated message or notification to a mobile device.

Foreign languages can reduce the number of characters available

When these messages are sent internationally, it can very quickly happen that the message is restricted to only 70 characters. This occurs when letters are utilized which are not included in the GSM-7-Bit alphabet (for instance the letters “ë” or “â” commonly used in French). In such cases the 16-Bit-Alphabet UCS-2 (Unicode) is required to render the characters correctly, which is automatically accompanied by a drastic reduction of the text length to 70 characters.

“Smart Replacement” automatically replaces special characters

The solution for this dilemma is called “Smart Replacement”. This function ensures that Retarus SMS for Applications or Retarus Mail2SMS customers can continue to send their messages as 7-Bit-SMS, despite the use of the aforementioned special characters. To avoid the readability of the SMS being impaired by incorrectly displayed characters, Retarus automatically replaces such characters with a similar character (in our example the character “ë” is replaced by a simple “e”). In this way, customers can benefit from using the full 160 characters, without the contents of the text – in the real sense of the word – falling by the wayside. As a side effect, “Smart Replacement” thus prevents the unintended doubling of the number of messages sent, helping you to save transmission costs.

Find out more about our SMS services here or directly from your local Retarus contact person.

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