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A short message service center (SMSC) is the part of a wireless network that manages SMS operations, which includes storing, routing and forwarding inbound short messages to their desired endpoints.
The SMSC receives messages from senders and allows them to pass through before going to their intended recipients. It also determines whether a given recipient is available on the network. If so, the message is sent. Otherwise, it is stored until the intended recipient becomes available.
There are many types of messaging systems, and an SMSC must interface with all of them. Voice-mail, email and Web-based systems are some of the systems that must connect to an SMSC. Network operators use SMS gateways to connect to the SMSC.
Because an SMSC stores messages before actually forwarding them, it is called a store-and-forward system. To increase the chances of successful delivery, an SMSC works with the cellular network’s various components, especially the home location register (HLR), the visitor location register (VLR), and the mobile switching center (MSC).
A simple short message starts from the sender’s phone. The SMSC address to which the short message should be submitted is saved on the subscriber's SIM card and is sent to the MSC with the message. The MSC then forwards the message to the SMSC, which sends a positive or negative response specifying whether the short message was correctly stored or not.