What is an SMS Broadcast?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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SMS broadcast is the term used to describe the act of sending mobile text messages to multiple users via a designated short message service provider. Time is saved with this technology, as mobile phone messages can be sent one time, but received by multiple users in lieu of sending the message multiple times to notify each user. SMS broadcast messaging is often used for mobile marketing, as well as emergency alerts and other important group updates.

SMS broadcast alerts are primarily sent using a system through which individual recipients first opt-in and agree to receive occasional messages. Upon submitting the mobile telephone number through which each individual agrees to receive messages, a sender can then transmit a message to all members of a network by simply entering text to be delivered, selecting specific recipients or a group of recipients and sending an SMS broadcast to the entire group. Often, the software used to transmit messages can also inform the sender of which messages were received by the intended recipient and which mobile numbers did not receive a message due to either being out of service or experiencing other technical difficulties.


While an SMS broadcast can theoretically be sent using a standard mobile phone by simply selecting multiple recipients, individuals and companies that consistently use this broadcasting option for mobile marketing or other business needs typically acquire software designed specifically for SMS broadcast delivery. Otherwise, sending group messages manually can be quite time consuming and reports concerning operable mobile numbers are nonexistent. In particular, in times of emergency, it is imperative that information be broadcast in a timely, efficient manner and, therefore, a manual group messaging attempt is simply insufficient for this need.

The popularity and effectiveness of SMS broadcast alerts in times of emergency have caused some to place increased pressure on certain jurisdictions to use this technology as part of city emergency preparedness programs. In the past, the technology has also proven to be successful on college campuses where alerts are easily sent to students and parents in the event of an emergency occurring on campus grounds. Since messages are sent and received in real-time, emergency information and needs can be quickly disseminated and attended to. In some instances, however, an SMS broadcast alert may not be received by certain mobile phone carriers, as not all phones are equipped to access short codes or receive incoming text messages.


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