What Does “SMS” Mean?

SMS stands for “short message service,” which is used to send text messages between cellphones. Individual messages can only display up to 160 characters, although most messaging programs can split long messages into multiple shorter ones.

Although SMS service was initially only available with GSM cellphone service, its burgeoning popularity led CDMA-based providers to offer support as well. SMS support was originally provided on a different data stream than Internet access due to bandwidth limitations.

Text messaging has become a common form of communication. A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that of the 91 percent of American adults who own a cellphone, 81 percent sent and received text messages.