Concatenated SMS / Long SMS

Concatenated SMS (or Long SMS) refers to the concept of joining multiple SMS messages into one longer message to overcome the maximum length of 160 characters of SMS.

In the cellular phone industry, mobile phones and their networks sometimes support concatenated short message service (or concatenated SMS) to overcome the limitation on the number of characters that can be sent in a single SMS text message transmission (which is usually 160). Using this method, long messages are split into smaller messages by the sending device and recombined at the receiving end. Each message is then billed separately. When the feature works properly, it is nearly transparent to the user, appearing as a single long text message. Previously, due to incompatibilities between providers and lack of support in some phone models, there was not widespread use of this feature.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, this feature was adopted more widely. Not only do many handsets support this feature, but support for the feature also exists amongst SMS gateway providers. The way concatenation works in GSM and UMTS networks is specified in SMS Point to Point specification, 3GPP TS 23.040.

On networks which do not support Concatenated SMS (neither the standard scheme nor the simplified one), the message is delivered as individual SMS text messages rather than one concatenated message.

When part of a standard Concatenated SMS is not received, or received more than once, the receiving device's database can get corrupted, leading to ongoing problems with future messages between the same phones. Free tools are available to clean up an afflicted device's database.