The Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a new messaging service that allows messages containing pictures, audio clips, text and in the future, video, to be sent and received between one customer and another.

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a store and forward messaging service which allows cell phone subscribers to exchange multimedia messages with other mobile subscribers. As such it can be seen as an evolution of SMS, with MMS supporting the transmission of additional media types:
text
picture
audio
video
 
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is an important emerging service, which allows the sending of multiple media in a single message, and the ability to send a message to multiple recipients at one time.

Just as the traditional short message service (SMS), multimedia messaging service (MMS)  provides automatic and immediate delivery of personal messages. Unlike the SMS however, MMS allows mobile phone users to enhance their messages by incorporating sound, images, and other rich content, transforming it into a personalized visual and audio message.

But MMS technology offers more than just a broadening of message content. With MMS, it is not only possible to send your multimedia messages from one phone to another, but also from phone to email, and vice versa. This feature dramatically increases the possibilities of mobile communication, both for private and corporate use.

The originator of the message, can easily create a Multimedia Message, either using a built-in or accessory camera, or can use images and sounds stored previously in the cell phone ( or possibly downloaded from a site).

Several Multimedia Messages can be stored in the users handset and reviewed or forwarded at a later date.

How MMS works: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Depending upon the mobile operator, a typical example of how MMS messages are sent and received between two compatible MMS mobile phones is :

1: Using an MMS compatible phone, take a picture.
2: Use your mobile phone to personalize the message by adding text, voice or sound clip
3: Send the MMS message

On a compatible cell phone, the MMS message will appear with a new message alert. The picture message will open on the screen, the text will appear below the image and the sound, if any, plays automatically.

Comparison of MMS with SMS:

SMS messages are not delivered in real time because they follow the 'store and forward' model. All SMS messages first get sent to the SMSC (Short Message Service Centre) from where they are routed to the recipient. MMSC (Multi Media Service Centre) performs an analogous function to the SMSC for the purposes of this discussion.

Like SMS messages, MMS messages are also not delivered in real time. However the actual interaction in the delivery of MMS messages is different from that of SMS.

SMS messages delivery is quite simple - SMS messages get sent first to the SMSC and if the SMSC can deliver the message immediately to the recipient, the message is sent to them.

However, the steps for MMS are different:
The sender sends a message to the MMSC

When the MMSC receives the message, the MMSC sends confirmation. The sender then gets a 'message sent'.

MMSC sends the receiver a notification that a new message is waiting
The receiver can then download the message immediately or download it later. Once the message is successfully downloaded, the receiver gets a 'Message Received' indication.

Once the receiver has successfully downloaded the message, the sender gets a 'Message Delivered' message.

SMS uses signalling links that have limited spare capacity. MMS uses main data channels (initially GPRS) that enable multimedia messages to be sent.

Both SMS and MMS are store and forward systems and are not real time.

Unlike SMS, MMS can use user profiles to determine when content should be delivered - for example a user may choose to receive certain messages after working hours.

MMS can undertake format conversion based on terminal characteristics and user profile. This does not apply to SMS.

In the SMS environment, storage of messages is not an issue since the size of a message is small and the issue of storing a message arises only when the recipient is not available (which is the exception rather than the rule). In contrast, MMS messages can be larger. Also, they may be stored in the recipient's MMSC for longer (since they may not be downloaded immediately). This introduces a cost. Further, users may like to 'store the message' more permanently There is an opportunity for storage companies to provide such services for example photo albums.

Unlike the SMSC, design of the MMSC is not monolithic. Hence, MMSC design comprises multiple elements. An operator may mix and match these elements from various vendors.

Access to MMS messages should be independent of access points - MMS messages could be accessed through 3G, 2G networks, fixed line networks etc.

SMS does not have a concept of a user profile whereas in MMS, the user profile is central since it determines when a message will be downloaded for example. This is because MMS messages are larger and are not delivered immediately to the recipient.

 

Although MMS encompasses a wide range of content types, it is a logical extension of SMS, making it easily adoptable for today's generation of mobile users. Another advantage of MMS is that the message is a multimedia presentation in a single entry, not a text file with attachments, making it much simpler and user-friendly.

MMS Supports most Applications: --------------------------------------------------------------------------

Text
 
Unlimited text that can be formatted.
 
Text can be accompanied by images, graphics, sound and in future video.

Graphics
 
Support for Graphs, tables, charts, diagrams and layouts.
 
Support for animated GIFs.

Audio
 
Support for music, speech.
 
Support for streaming sound.

Images
 
Sending images and snapshots from an attached or built in digital camera.
 
Ability to edit images and add text.

Video
 
The ultimate goal of MMS is the ability to send video (over a full 3G network).
 
The ability to send a simple 30-second clip has enticing applications especially in the sports and media arena.

The MMS standard lists JPEG, GIF, text, AMR voice, and other formats as supported media types, while unsupported formats are handled in a controlled way. Like SMS, MMS is an open industry standard, and MMS messages can be delivered using existing networks and protocols. MMS is also bearer-independent, which means it is not limited to GSM or WCDMA networks.

Drawbacks of MMS: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The speed of MMS transmission, although quick, is still dependent on the message size and on the bearer used. However, since the receiver is not aware of the ongoing transmission before the message has been delivered, the delay is imperceptible, making MMS as convenient to use as SMS.