Building Mobile Messaging

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Copyright 2008

Building Mobile Messaging
Applications with SMS

Dr. Ron Vetter, PhD

Department of Computer Science

UNC Wilmington

Outline

History of Mobile Development at UNCW

Definitions and Terms

Comparison of Mobile Application
Development Models and Cost

The Short Message Service (or SMS)

Mobile Education, LLC

Questions

History of Mobile Development at
UNCW

1999: Wireless Network Rollout

2000: Project Numina


Focus on handheld computers and science/math


Applications: SRS and GraphData


See web site
-

http://uncdub.net/numina/


2001
-
2003: Move to Pocket PCs

2004
-
2006: NSF funded “Virtual Learning
Communities” Project (Tablet PCs)

2005
-
Present: Move to Mobile Phones

Mobile Phone Facts

In 1995, roughly 13 percent of the U.S.
population had cell phones. By 2006, it was
76 percent.

Today, there are approximately 229 million
cellular subscribers in the U.S.

Wireless services generate more than $113
billion in revenues annually.



Source: http://www.ctia.org/media/industry_info/index.cfm/AID/10323

Definitions and Terms

WAP


Wireless Application Protocol

SMS


Short Message Service

SMSC


Short Message Service Center

CSC


Common Short Code


Let’s look at each of these items in turn.

WAP

Many phones have browsers that are like small
versions of desktop web browsers.

Phone browsers are designed to display WAP which
is similar to HTML but much simpler.

WAP is the de
-
facto world standard for the
presentation and delivery of wireless information and
telephony services on mobile phones.

Standard web servers can serve WAP as well as
HTML.

UNCW WAP Applications

1. CORMP: live
weather and ocean
data from buoys


The screen at the
right shows links to
all of the buoys.

CORMP WAP Application

Selecting a link shows
the current conditions
at that buoy.

UNCW WAP Applications

2. UNCW Directory

3. RSS News Feeds


BOTTOM LINE:

If it is available online, then we can make it
available through WAP.


UNCW Java Applications

Installing a Java application on a phone is
easier than installing an application on a
PC.

Application can be installed by clicking a
link in a WAP page.

Development Platform: SUN Java Wireless
Toolkit

CORMP Java Map Application

CORMP Java Map Application

The Short Message Service

Defined in 1985

Purpose to allow simple communication between
mobile devices

First SMS message sent early 90’s

Fastest form of communication when counterpart
not able to take a call


Few seconds slower than direct voice call


Faster by hours or days when compared to other forms
of communication



Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service

SMS

SMS is a service available on most digital mobile
phones

Message size


160


7 bit characters


140


8 bit characters


70


16 bit characters

No formatting


just straight text

Can be used with automated systems, such as ordering
products and services, or participating in contests.

SMSC

When a user sends a text message to another user,
the phone actually sends the message to the SMSC.

The SMSC stores the message and then delivers it to
the destination user when they are available. This is
a store and forward operation.

The SMSC usually has a configurable time limit for
how long it will store the message, and users can
usually specify a shorter time limit if they want.

CSC

Common short codes are numbers to which text
messages can be sent from a mobile phone.

Wireless subscribers send text messages to short
codes with relevant keywords to access a wide
variety of mobile content.

CSCs are compatible across participating carriers
and are currently defined as 5 or 6 digit numbers.

Interactive SMS requires a CSC

Message Aggregators

Maintains connections with carriers’ SMSCs
using Short Message Peer
-
to
-
Peer Protocol
(SMPP)

Provide API for mobile content service providers
to connect to their servers

Provision CSC with cell phone carriers
(provisioning takes approximately 3 months)

Email
-
to
-
SMS Gateways

Carriers provide a mechanism to turn an email into
an SMS message, called an Email
-
to
-
SMS
Gateway

They are one
-
way → the recipient cannot reply to
the message

Carriers filter for spam and may block access to
the gateway

Carriers provide this service as a courtesy and may
discontinue the service at any time

SMS System Architecture

Mobile User

Service Providers

SMSC

SMSC

SMSC

SMS Broker

SS7

SS7

Content Provider

Aggregator

SMPP

SMS

SMS

SMS

API

Content

Server &

Software

Apps

UNCW SMS Applications

1.
Scheduling Messages

a)
Reminder Service

b)
Daily Event Information

c)
Notification (e.g., opening in class)


2.
Interactive Messages

a)
Shuttle Bus Information

b)
Word Utilities

Web Site


http://www.uncw.edu/mobile

Comparison of Mobile Application
Development and Cost

WAP

Java Midlet

SMS

WAP Applications

Advantages:

Inexpensive to provide

Development is
straightforward

Familiar web browser
based interface

Disadvantages:

Compatibility across
devices is problematic

Very few users are
comfortable with using
the browser on their
phone

Data plans are
expensive

Java Applications

Advantages:

Rich, graphical
environment

Easy to install

Disadvantages:

Program must be
tested for different
phones, and even for
different carriers with
the same phone

Development is
complicated and time
consuming

SMS Applications

Advantages:

Many students already
use text messages

Creating and sending
SMS is easier than
opening browser or
starting a Java
application

Disadvantages:

Cost to send and
receive messages

Stateful behavior is
difficult to emulate

Cost Models: WAP vs SMS

Interactive WAP:

Fixed, Recurring, and Marginal costs are the same
as those of providing HTML services, such as the
existing HTML directory service.

Interactive SMS:

Startup ~$2000

Monthly ~$1500

SMS Send/Receive ~6¢

Reaching Students:
WAP vs. SMS

Recent survey of 188 UNCW students


82% use SMS


10% use WAP

American Idol Effect: SMS popularity
growing

Students cite high cost of data plan as one
reason for not using WAP browsers

SMS much easier to use than WAP

SMS Statistics

In 2000


14.4 million text messages/month.

In 2006


18.7 billion text messages/month.

In 2008


30 billion text messages/month


Average cost of a text message = $0.20



According to figures from CTIA, the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry.

Faculty Start
-
Up Company

Focus on the commercial development of
advanced mobile computing applications
originating from UNCW.



Emphasis on interactive 2
-
way SMS interfaces
to applications


Explore use of WAP Push to lead users toward
WAP interfaces

Mobile Education, LLC

A faculty start
-
up company providing mobile
message content services

Working with an SMS aggregator to provision a
common short code (90947)

Will share the common short code across
multiple institutions in order to reduce costs

Initial focus will be on the higher education
market

UNCW Applications (Fall 2007)

1. Subscribe to receive daily campus events

2. Emergency broadcast messages

3. Interactive shuttle bus information

4. Integration with Banner


request grade information
and notification when a seat becomes available

5. Interactive movie schedule

UNCW Applications (Fall 2008)

1. Outlook Mobile Services


http://oms.uncw.edu


2. Coupons


http://www.CouponsToYourPhone.com


3. Dub Hunt


http://www.DubHunt.com


UNCW just placed 2
nd

in the 2008 AT&T Mobile Campus Challenge

-

http://higheredcontest.wireless.att.com/main/default.aspx


Customized Applications

Mobile Education will work with institutions
to make their content available via SMS. This
includes:


Public data published via RSS


Back office information via secure queries


Integration with Email (e.g., FINAID application)


Carrier’s Supported

Cingular/AT&T

Verizon

T
-
Mobile

Sprint

Nextel

Boost

Alltel

Virgin Mobile

US Cellular

Cellular 1

Questions

Contact Information

Mobile Education LLC


Ron Vetter


ronvetter@myMobEd.com

Jeff Brown


jeffbrown@myMobEd.com


Web site:
http://myMobEd.com