Enhanced Messaging Service

What Does Enhanced Messaging Service Mean?

Enhanced message service (EMS) is a messaging service with features more advanced than short message service (SMS), but slightly less advanced than multimedia message service (MMS). EMS permits users to deliver and receive special ring tones and sound effects, operator logos, simple animations and images to and from handsets that are compatible with EMS functionality. It also enables users to send and receive messages with special text formats, such as italics or bold.


EMS was initiated by a cross-industry venture involving Ericsson, Alcatel, Samsung, Motorola, and Siemens, among others.

Techopedia Explains Enhanced Messaging Service

EMS works similar to SMS as a store-and-forward system. Like MMS, it allows users to attach graphics as well as combine multiple 160-character messages to form longer messages. However, unlike MMS, which supports colored images, EMS can only handle monochrome. Also, as opposed to MMS, EMS does not require wireless carriers to upgrade their messaging infrastructure or develop a new billing structure.

EMS messages sent to non-compatible devices are displayed in a text format. However, these messages may not be readable, because additional data is present in the EMS format that may not be decoded by the non-compatible device.

The rise of MMS, interoperability issues and lack of support from many wireless operators led to the early obsolescence of EMS.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…