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Blog / 5G Messaging Operator

Why SMS is still king in 5G

22 Jul 2020 - 3 min read

Today, the choice of mobile messaging channels for communication between end users, devices, and businesses is greater than ever. However, despite increased competition, SMS remains the undisputed champion and, in fact, continues to grow in importance!

SMS is the only channel that can reach more than 5 billion people with mobile devices around the world as well as a rapidly increasing number of connected IoT devices. This unparalleled reach combined with the reliability of a technology that has stood the test of time, ensures that SMS will not only be relevant in 5G but a key enabler in powering new operator revenue opportunities.

Seamless support and continued access to Person-to-Person (P2P) SMS will be mandatory as subscribers acquire new handsets and move into 5G networks. We also know, from steadily increasing Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging traffic figures, that enterprises are keen on taking advantage of the power of SMS in their digitization journeys.

SMS is the most basic of operator services with roots from the 2G era but has still become one of the most powerful communication channels for a business to reach their customers and vice versa. Enterprises, and in turn mobile operators, will need to cater for this growing opportunity as SMS is still very much a core service with strong revenue potential as networks transition into 5G.

The technology that supports SMS in 5G networks also opens up important new revenue opportunities for operators in IoT. SMS in 5G can be delivered with IP connectivity over an IP-SM Gateway but also without IMS infrastructure over an SMSF (SMS over NAS) in a more simplistic implementation. While both are essential in 5G networks, the SMSF is particularly important for new IoT and machine communication use cases across many industries.

There are in excess of 1.3 billion cellular IoT devices in the world today and that figure is expected to reach 5 billion by 2025 (Ericsson Mobility Report 2019). The majority of this growth will come from massive IoT where huge volumes of low-cost devices will require low-energy consumption but where latency, sensitivity and throughput will be less critical. Traditional functionality such as device triggering and SIM OTA will be an integral part of many IoT scenarios and operators will rely on the SMSF for SMS delivery in these use cases.

In short, whether it’s for reaching the growing number of mobile subscribers in the world or enabling a growing IoT ecosystem, SMS will only continue to grow in importance. The universal reach and dependability of SMS secures its place as a channel that enterprises will continue to use to engage with customers. Aided by the rollout of 5G, the IoT explosion will also provide an additional gust of wind in the SMS sails.

When the first SMS was transmitted almost thirty years ago, no one could have imagined the impact it would have on the way we communicate as people and how we interact with businesses today. As we move into the 5G era, SMS is one of the few mobile services that has managed to remain relevant and that will continue to flourish in a rapidly changing telecoms industry.

Take a look at our 5G SMSF and IP-SM Gateway to find out more about SMS solutions in 5G.