Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a primary way to send messages that include multimedia content to and from a mobile phone via a cellular network. Service providers and users may refer to this as a picture message, PXT, or multimedia message. Unlike the typical SMS, MMS allows users to create messages that contain more than 160 characters and deliver various types of media, like videos (up to forty seconds), an image, a slideshow of multiple images, or audio.

This service is mainly used on phones with built-in cameras, where users would send and receive photographs from other users. Media companies also use it commercially to provide their content, and businesses are using it to deliver product images, scannable coupons, and additional related information.


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Delivery of MMS Messages

MMS messages are sent differently to other users than a typical SMS message. The transmitting device first encodes the multimedia message, similar to delivering a Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) message. This message is then forwarded to the provider’s MMS store and forward server or the Multimedia Messaging Service Centre (MMSC).

If the recipient device has a different carrier from the sender, the MMSC will relay and forward the message to the MMSC of the receiving device’s carrier via the Internet. Once it’s received by the recipient’s MMSC, it will primarily determine whether the receiver’s phone supports MMS messaging. If it’s MMS-capable, the content is extracted and transmitted to a temporary HTTP front-end storage server.

Then, a control message containing the URL of the content is sent to the recipient’s phone to prompt its WAP browser to open and receive the content embedded in the URL. Before the content’s finally delivered, some MMSCs have a conversion service that will attempt to change the multimedia content into a suitable format—this process is called content adaptation.

Once the recipient’s handset is not MMS-capable, the message will be delivered to a web-based service, where the user can view the content using a standard mobile internet browser. The URL for the multimedia content is sent to the receiver in a regular SMS. This process is a legacy experience since users can still receive the content.

The system for determining whether a mobile phone is MMS-capable isn’t specified by standards. Operators usually refer to a database, where each mobile phone number is marked as a legacy handset. This method is considered unreliable since customers can quickly change their handsets, and these databases are not updated in real time.