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The text of the message was "Merry Christmas." The first commercially sold SMS service was offered to consumers, as a person-to-person text messaging service by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa) in Finland in 1993.

SMS, as used on modern devices, originated from radio telegraphy in radio memo pagers that used standardized phone protocols.These were defined in 1985 as part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) series of standards.Besides the completion of the main specification GSM 03.40, the detailed protocol specifications on the system interfaces also needed to be completed.CAMEL allows the gsm SCP to block the submission (MO) or delivery (MT) of Short Messages, route messages to destinations other than that specified by the user, and perform real-time billing for the use of the service.The key idea for SMS was to use this telephone-optimized system, and to transport messages on the signalling paths needed to control the telephone traffic during periods when no signalling traffic existed.

In this way, unused resources in the system could be used to transport messages at minimal cost.

There were also initial discussions in the subgroup WP3 network aspects chaired by Jan Audestad (Telenor).

The result was approved by the main GSM group in a June '85 document which was distributed to industry.

Prior to standardized CAMEL control of the Short Message Service, IN control relied on switch vendor specific extensions to the Intelligent Network Application Part (INAP) of SS7.

was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1992, from Neil Papworth of Sema Group (now Mavenir Systems) using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone using an Orbitel 901 handset.

According to one market research report, as of 2014, the global SMS messaging business was estimated to be worth over 0 billion, accounting for almost 50 percent of all the revenue generated by mobile messaging.