SMS 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).
SMS Cell Broadcast is defined within Phase 2 of the GSM standard in GSM 03.49. Cell Broadcast has some similarities with SMS since both services use the GSM network's signaling path. A (Each) Cell Broadcast message may be from 1 to 15 pages in length. Each page can be up to 93 alphanumeric characters or 82 octets of binary data in length. Additionally, up to 15 Cell Broadcast messages can be concatenated. Cell Broadcast messages are transmitted to the applicable Base Station Controllers (BSCs) for subsequent broadcast. The Message Destination is described in terms of cell identifiers which the BSC uses to route the message content to Base Transceiver Station Cells. Messages are broadcast for a user defined number of broadcasts with a user specified broadcast repetition rate. Cell Broadcast messages may be updated or removed from the BSC and subsequent BTS/ Cells anytime during the message broadcast period. (The BTSs are selected to determine the area over which the message is broadcast).
On Cell Broadcast the GSM operators send different news or data. Often they offer business news, weather forcast and so one. The German GSM operator Mannesmann D2 offers a way to build your own Cell Broadcast channel. The costs of that service will be charged to the owner of the service, to the user of that service or the costs can be shared.