Cell Broadcast/Cell Information (CB) messaging is a mobile technology feature defined by the ETSI’s GSM committee and is part of the GSM standard. It is also known as Short Message Service-Cell Broadcast. (SMS-CB). Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous delivery to multiple users in a specified area.
Cell Broadcast (CB) is a mobile technology that allows messages (currently of up to 15 pages of up to 93 characters) to be broadcast to all mobile handsets and similar devices within a designated geographical area. The broadcast range can be varied, from a single cell to the entire network.
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This technology is used in deploying location-based subscriber services, such as regional auctions, local weather, traffic conditions and ‘nearest’ services (like requesting the nearest service station or restaurant).
Cell Broadcast is designed for simultaneous delivery of messages to multiple users in a specified area. Whereas the Short Message Service (SMS) is a one-to-one and one-to-a-few service, Cell Broadcast is one-to-many geographically focused service.
It enables messages to be communicated to multiple mobile phone customers who are located within a given part of its network coverage area at the time the message is broadcast. Cell Broadcast is more akin to other mass distribution media such as teletext or Radio Data System (RDS).
Cell Broadcast is the most reliable and effective mobile technology for mass message broadcast.
To the end user, Cell Broadcast resembles SMS very closely, but in terms of implementation it is far more practical. The technology works on a one-to-many basis, so that one message can be sent to many millions of devices, instantly. Messages are broadcast to all phones connected to the network in the target area, making it a truly location-specific service.
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As the broadcaster has no way of knowing who receives the message, Cell Broadcast is anonymous and does not require any mobile subscribers to register. Cell Broadcast has been included in all major standards including GSM, CDMA, UMTS(3G) and LTE, so is already available to deploy on the majority of networks.
Importantly, Cell Broadcast utilizes dedicated network signalling, different from voice and data capacity and is therefore not affected by network congestion, making it ideal for emergency alerts.
SMS versus Cell Broadcast
Short Message Service (SMS)
Cell Broadcast (CELL BROADCAST)
|Messages sent point-to-point||Transmission type||Messages sent point-to-area|
|Required. Requires specific phone numbers to be known||Mobile Number dependency||Independent. Does not require phone numbers to be known|
|No. Only pre-registered numbers will be notified; message will be received regardless of actual location||Location based targeting||Yes. All phones within a targeted geographical area (cells) will be notified.|
|Static messages will be sent to pre-registered numbers.||Message type||Location specific. Tailored messages can be sent to different areas.|
|Direct. Users can receive messages and respond directly to the sender via SMS.||Bi-directionality||Indirect. The message should contain a URL or number to reply.|
|Subject to network congestion. Delivery is queued. Congestion can occur||Congestion and delay||CELL BROADCAST is always available.|
|140-160 characters. Longer ‘concatenated’ messages are supported.||Message length||93 characters. Longer ‘multiple page’ messages are supported.|
|Poor authenticity. The source of the message cannot be verified.||Security||Good security. Only the mobile operator can broadcast messages.|
|No barring.||Service barring||Yes. Users can turn off CELL BROADCAST reception or a specific channel.|
|By default. When phone is turned on messages can be received.||Reception||Requires action. CELL BROADCAST needs to be turned on in order to receive messages.|
|Yes. Senders can request delivery confirmation.||Delivery confirmation||No. Confirmation of delivery to the handset is not available, however actual broadcast in the network is.|
|No repetition rate.||Repetition rate||Yes. Can be repeated between 2 seconds and 32 minutes.|
|No. Identical to all receivers.||Language selection||Yes. Messages can be broadcasted in subscriber’s preferred language|
|Yes.||Message storage||Handset dependant.|