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MMS Overview

About Multimedia Messaging Service

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is an extension of the SMS standard. It is a rich multimedia messaging technology which provides audio, video, images and thousands of characters of text within a single message.

Content and messages sent via MMS are delivered to and opened within a recipient’s inbox in the same familiar way as SMS. There is no software to download or application to launch, and end users can reply to an MMS with an SMS, and vice-versa via the same short or code.

Each message is a multimedia presentation. Because MMS uses the cellular network for delivery, a data connection isn’t needed. A majority of U.S. subscription contracts include MMS in an unlimited messaging plan. These combined characteristics make it a simple and convenient method of sending and receiving rich content.

From a carrier or aggregator perspective, MMS is more complex to support and requires greater bandwidth. Media format types and message size limitations vary by carrier and mobile device capabilities. As a result, it costs more to send an MMS than an SMS.

Every mobile phone is pre-configured with settings for how the phone sends and receives MMS messages. For example, an MMS video message that runs in .mp4 format will not open on many Blackberry phones, which only run .3gp video files. Transcoding services optimize the delivery of MMS. These services help solve the technical issues associated with handsets and MMSCs (carrier processing centers) as well as carrier message size limitations. Transcoding services are available on both A2P and P2P routes with different feature sets, and varying costs.

MMS message delivery takes longer than SMS due to both the mms file size, and the network handling complexities. Expect an auto response to typically take between eight and thirty seconds to return an MMS once the keyword has been received by the application.

Quick Facts

There are two important standards that define MMS technology, one published by the 3GPP (3GPP TS 23.140), and the other a series of MMS specifications published by the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). These two standard bodies cooperate to define the MMS protocols.

An MMS message is:

  • A multimedia presentation in a single entry*
  • Network independent
  • A messaging application that does not require a data plan
  • Supported by MMS-compatible feature phones, smart phones and tablets**

*Some mobile devices will store rich media separate from text.

**MMS Service may not be compatible with all handsets

Implementing MMS

There are a few key factors to consider before getting started with MMS:

  • Connection: In order to implement MMS on a code, you must have an MMS-enabled connection on the Aerialink Platform.
  • Fees: Separate from SMS
  • API: MM4 and/or HTTP specifications
  • Rates: MMS-specific message rates and carrier surcharge fees apply. For 8XX (Toll-Free) MMS, contact your Account Manager to add this to your service plan.
  • Sender Types: Standard long code, 8XX numbers, MMS-certified short code.
  • MMS Protocols: HTTP
  • DLR: Supported through MM4 only
  • Incoming Keyword Matching: Supported
  • Storage: MMS attachments are kept for forty-five (45) days after which they expire and are removed from our system.

General MMS Tips

  • For video, avoid complex or gradated backgrounds
  • For video, avoid background noise
  • Keep videos under 40s in length
  • Keep text copy enticing and brief despite longer character capacity

Short Code MMS Implementation

Aerialink recommends certifying new short code programs for SMS and MMS simultaneously. An amendment to add SMS or MMS at a later date is viewed as a “New” setup by carriers and an additional fee of $1,500 will be charged to file the separate amendment.

Input File Formats

The below shows the supported content types and formats for Standard Long Codes, 8XX (Toll-Free) Numbers and Short Codes.

Content TypeLong Code 8XX (Toll-Free)Short Code
wav, x-wav
midi, sp-midi, mid
aac, aac+
  • Plain Text Charsets Available: UTF-8, US-ASCII

Additional Video Specifications

If a video is part of a message, the following guidelines must be met.

File Extension3gp, 3gpp, 3g2, 3gpp2
Max Frames225d
Max Frame Rate15fps
Max Video Duration< 30s@7.5fps
< 15s@15fps
Max Video Bit Rate< 256k

Additional Audio Specifications

  • Audio encoding: AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC LC, QCELP - 13k 9for 3g2 files
  • Audio bit rate: QCELP = 14400, AMR-NM = 6400, AMR-WB = 7200, AAC LC = 29500

Carrier MMS File Size Limitations

Standard Long Code

The carriers listed below have established these MMS size limitations for outbound messages.* A full list of carriers who support MMS via 8XX (toll-free) numbers can be found in the first two tabs of our Long Code Reach List.

CarrierMax File Size Supported
Verizon Wireless1.2 MB
Sprint2 MB
T-Mobile3 MB
Other Carriers300 KB - 1 MB

8XX (Toll-Free)

The carriers listed below have established these MMS size limitations for outbound messages.* A full list of carriers who support MMS via 8XX (toll-free) numbers can be found in the 8XX tab of our Long Code Reach List.

Keep in mind:

  1. MMS DLR is available through MM4 connection only.
  2. MMS on 8XX supports the following file formats: .jpeg, .gif, .png
  3. Audio and video are not supported on 8XX at this time.
CarrierMax File Size
Verizon1.2 MB
AT&T760 KB
Sprint1.9 MB
T-Mobile2.2 MB
U.S. Cellular3.5 MB

Short Code

The carriers listed below have established these MMS size limitations for outbound messages. A full list of carriers who support MMS via short code can be found here in our Short Code Reach List.

CarrierSubject Characters LimitMax File Size Supported
Verizon Wireless831.2 MB
AT&T1281 MB
Sprint372 MB
T-Mobile403 MB

Note: MMS DLR is available through MM4 connection only.

Subject Characters Limit

The “Subject” referred to in this field is the subject, header, title or topic of the message. Thus, this refers not to the characters limit of the message body, but of the characters limit for the “subject.”

This page was last updated 1567016603032