SMS: Characters, Length and Cost

Since the 1990s, SMS (Short Message Service) has been one of our dearest communication services. Like many old “tech friends” it comes with a mixture of opportunities and some drawbacks or, in other words, legacy.

Available Characters

As long as the characters in your SMS is part of the “GSM 7-bit encoding character set” which contains all the of the most commonly used ones (see table below) you can send up to 160 characters in a single SMS message.


Note that the following characters | , ^ , € , { , } , [ , ] , ~ , \ can also be used however each of these will be counted as 2 characters in the SMS-message, not 1. This might in turn have an impact on the length of your SMS and thus the cost.

More than 160 characters?

When specifying the message body, the characters used as well as the length of the message will affect how many actual SMS messages are sent out. If you are using parameterization the length of each message may also vary depending on the recipient-specific data - find more on this topic here and here.

Most often you will probably only send 1 SMS to each customer and this will be done as long as you do not load the SMS with more than 160 characters. Any SMS containing more than that will be split and sent as multiple distinct SMS messages (the customer will get them delivered and displayed as a single long message). SMS that are split will be counted as >1 and billed accordingly.

You can use the table below to determine the actual number of SMS your message will create based on how many characters it will be provided with. 


SMS Sender

It's a good idea to put some thought into what sender name you want to display to your customer to ensure they know it's you. Bear in mind to keep within the limits of 3-11 characters (this is standard for most SMS suppliers).

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