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Enhanced Messaging Service

Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) is a cross-industry collaboration between Samsung, Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens and Alcatel, among others. It is an application-level extension to Short Message Service (SMS) for cellular phones available on GSM, TDMA and CDMA networks.

EMS is an intermediate technology, between SMS and MMS, providing some of the features of MMS. EMS is a technology that is designed to work with existing networks, but may ultimately be made obsolete by MMS.

An EMS-enabled mobile phone can send and receive messages that have special text formatting (such as bold or italic), animations, pictures, icons, sound effects and special ringtones.

EMS messages that are sent to devices that do not support it will be displayed as SMS messages, though they may be unreadable due to the presence of additional data that cannot be rendered by the device.

In some countries, EMS messages cannot generally be sent between subscribers of different mobile phone carriers, as they will frequently be dropped by the inter-carrier network or by the receiving carrier. However, in other countries, such as the UK, inter-carrier interoperability is generally achieved.

EMS never really picked up due to interoperability limitations and in fact very few operators ever introduced it.

EMS is defined in 3GPP Technical Specification 3GPP TS 23.040 (originally GSM 03.40).[1]

On June 9, 2008, the CTIA organization officially released an RFI for Enhanced Messaging implementation with focus on Group Messaging.[2] The EM term in this context loosely refers to an improved mobile messaging product that combines the simplicity of Text Messaging with the successful rich features of the Internet's instant messaging. Other references to this new service have been made as "SMS 2" or "Instant SMS".


  1. ^ 3GPP (17 September 2018), Technical realization of Short Message Service (SMS) (.docx in zip format), Release 15 (15.2.0 ed.), Valbonne, France: 3GPP Organizational Partners, retrieved 23 September 2018
  2. ^ CITA (9 June 2008), CTIA – The Wireless Association® Launches RFI for Enhanced Messaging in the U.S., archived from the original on 27 July 2011, retrieved 23 September 2018