Network Working Group                                           E. Wilde
Internet-Draft                                Swiss Federal Institute of
Expires: July 26, 2004                                        Technology
                                                          A. Vaha-Sipila
                                                            Jan 26, 2004

                URI scheme for GSM Short Message Service

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at http://

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire on July 26, 2004.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). All Rights Reserved.


   This memo specifies a URI (Universal Resource Identifier) scheme
   "sms" for specifying a recipient (and optionally a gateway) for an
   SMS message. SMS messages are two-way paging messages that can be
   sent from and received by a mobile phone or a suitably equipped

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Table of Contents

   1.    Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   1.1   The Short Message Service  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   1.2   Universal Resource Identifiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   1.3   SMS Messages and the Internet  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   1.3.1 SMS Messages and the Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   1.3.2 SMS Messages and Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.    The "sms" URI Scheme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.1   Applicability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   2.2   Formal Definition  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   2.3   Parsing an "sms" URI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   2.4   Examples of Use  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   2.5   Using "sms" URIs in HTML Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   3.    "sms" URIs and SMS Web Services  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   3.1   Example  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   4.    Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.    Change Log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.1   From -00 to -01  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.2   From -01 to -02  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   5.3   From -02 to -03  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   5.4   From -03 to -04  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   5.5   From -04 to -05  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
         Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
         Non-Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
         Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   A.    Where to send Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
   B.    Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
         Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . 14

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1. Introduction

   Compliant software MUST follow this specification. The capitalized
   key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

1.1 The Short Message Service

   The Short Message Service (SMS) [SMS] is a rather simple service for
   sending messages between SMS clients or, using so-called "Telematic
   Interworking", from an SMS client through a gateway to a receiver
   using a different service, such as fax or email. The SMS service is
   described in more detail in the SMS service registration memo

1.2 Universal Resource Identifiers

   One of the core specifications for identifying resources on the
   Internet is RFC 2396 [RFC2396], specifying the syntax and semantics
   of a Universal Resource Identifier (URI). The most important notion
   of URIs are "schemes", which define a framework within which
   resources can be identified (and possibly accessed). URIs enable
   users to identify resources, and are used for very diverse schemes
   such as access protocols (HTTP, FTP), broadcast media (TV channels
   [RFC2838]), messaging (email [RFC2368]), or even telephone numbers
   (voice [RFC2806]).

   URIs often are mentioned together with Universal Resource Names
   (URNs) and/or Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), and it often is
   unclear how to separate these concepts. For the purpose of this memo,
   only the term URI will be used, referring to the most fundamental
   concept. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued a note
   [uri-clarification] discussing the topic of URIs, URNs, and URLs in

1.3 SMS Messages and the Internet

   One of the important reasons for the universal access of the Web is
   the ability to access all information through a unique interface.
   This kind of integration makes it easy to provide information as well
   as to consume it. One aspect of this integration is the support of
   user agents (in the case of the Web, commonly referred to as
   browsers) for multiple content formats (such as HTML, GIF, JPEG) and
   access schemes (such as HTTP, HTTP-S, FTP).

   The "mailto" scheme has proven to be very useful and popular, because
   most user agents support it by providing an email composition

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   facility when the user activates (eg, clicks on) the URI.
   Accordingly, the "sms" scheme could be supported by user agents by
   providing an SMS message composition facility when the user activates
   the URI. Alternatively, in cases where the user agent does not
   provide a built-in SMS message composition facility, the scheme could
   still be supported by opening a Web page which provides such a
   service. The specific Web page to be used could be configured by the
   user, so that each user could use the SMS message composition service
   of his choice.

   The goal of this memo is to specify the "sms" URI scheme, so that
   user agents (such as Web browsers and email clients) could start to
   support it. The "sms" URI scheme identifies SMS message endpoints as
   resources. When "sms" URIs are dereferenced, implementations MAY
   create a message and present it to be edited before being sent, or
   they MAY use additional services to provide the functionality
   necessary for composing a message and sending it to the SMS message

1.3.1 SMS Messages and the Web

   SMS messages can provide an alternative to a "mailto" URIs [RFC2368],
   or "tel" or "fax" URIs [RFC2806]. When a "sms" URI is activated, the
   user agent MAY start a program for sending an SMS message, just as
   "mailto" may open a mail client. Unfortunately, most browsers do not
   support the external handling of internally unsupported URI schemes
   in the same generalized way as most of them support external handling
   of additional MIME type content for types which they do not support
   internally. Ideally, user agents should implement generic URI parsers
   and provide a way to associate unsupported schemes with external
   applications (or Web services).

   The recipient of an SMS message need not be a mobile phone. It can be
   a server that can process SMS messages, either by gatewaying them to
   another messaging system (such as regular electronic mail), or by
   parsing them for supplementary services.

   SMS messages can be used to transport almost any kind of data (even
   though there is a very tight size limit), but the only standardized
   data formats are character-based messages in different character
   encodings. SMS messages have a maximum length of 160 characters (when
   using 7-bit characters from the SMS character set), or 140 octets.
   However, SMS messages can be concatenated to form longer messages. It
   is up to the user agent to decide whether to limit the length of the
   message, and how to indicate this limit in its user interface, if
   necessary. There is one exception to this, see Section 2.5.

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1.3.2 SMS Messages and Forms

   The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) [HTML401] provides a way to
   collect information from a user and pass it to a server for
   processing. This functionality is known as "HTML forms". A filled-in
   form is usually sent to the destination using the Hypertext Transfer
   Protocol (HTTP) or email. However, SMS messages can also be used as
   the transport mechanism for these forms. As SMS transport is
   "out-of-band" as far as normal HTTP over TCP/IP is concerned, this
   provides a way to fill in forms offline, and send the data without
   making a TCP connection to the server, as the set-up time, cost, and
   overhead for a TCP connection are large compared to an SMS message.
   Also, depending on the network configuration, the sender's telephone
   number may be included in the SMS message, thus providing a weak form
   of authentication.

2. The "sms" URI Scheme

   Syntax definitions are given using the Augmented BNF for Syntax
   Specifications [RFC2234].

2.1 Applicability

   This URI scheme is intended for sending an SMS message to a certain
   recipient(s). The functionality is quite similar to that of the
   "mailto" URL, which (as per RFC 2368 [RFC2368]) can also be used with
   a comma-separated list of email addresses.

   In some situations, it may be necessary to guide the sender to send
   the SMS message via a certain SMSC. For this purpose, the URI may
   specify the number of the SMSC.

   SMS messages may be sent through gateways to other services. These
   gateways are operated inside SMS centers. An "SMS" URI may specify
   that a certain gateway should be used.

   The notation for phone numbers is taken from
   [draft-allocchio-gstn-05]. Refer to this document for information on
   why this particular format was chosen.

   How the SMS message is sent to the SMSC is outside the scope of this
   specification. SMS messages can be sent over the GSM air interface,
   by using a modem and a suitable protocol, or by accessing services
   over other protocols, such as a Web service for sending SMS messages.
   Also, SMS message service options like deferred delivery and delivery
   notification requests are not in the scope of this document. Such
   services MAY be requested from the network by the user agent if

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   SMS messages sent as a result of this URI MUST be sent as class 1 SMS
   messages, if the user agent is able to specify the message class.

2.2 Formal Definition

   The URI scheme's keywords specified in the following syntax
   description are case-insensitive. The syntax of an "sms" URI is
   formally described as follows, where the base syntax is taken from
   RFC 2396 [RFC2396]:

   sms-uri               =  scheme ":" scheme-specific-part
   scheme                =  "sms"
   scheme-specific-part  =  1*( sms-recipient ) [ sms-body ]
   sms-recipient         =  gstn-phone sms-qualifier
                            [ "," sms-recipient ]
   sms-qualifier         =  *( smsc-qualifier / pid-qualifier )
   smsc-qualifier        =  ";smsc=" SMSC-sub-addr
   pid-qualifier         =  ";pid=" PID-sub-addr
   sms-body              =  "?body=" *urlc

   The syntax definition for "gstn-phone" is taken from
   [draft-allocchio-gstn-05], allowing global as well as local telephone

   The syntax definition for "SMSC-sub-addr" and "PID-sub-addr" is
   derived from [draft-wilde-sms-service-05], please refer to that
   document for the syntax of the qualifier values.

   The "sms-body" is used to define the body of the SMS message to be
   composed. It consists of URL-encoded UTF-8 characters.
   Implementations MUST make sure that the sms-body characters are
   converted to a suitable character encoding before sending, the most
   popular being the 7-bit SMS character encoding, another variant
   (though not as universally supported as 7-bit SMS) is the UCS-2
   character encoding  (both specified in [SMS-CHAR]). Implementations
   MAY choose to silently discard (or convert) characters in the
   sms-body that are not supported by the SMS character set they are
   using to send the SMS message.

   It should be noted that both the SMSC as well as the PID qualifier
   may appear only once per sms-recipient. If multiple qualifiers are
   present, conforming software MUST interpret the first occurrence and
   ignore all other occurrences.

2.3 Parsing an "sms" URI

   The following list describes the steps for processing an "sms" URI:

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   1.  The "gstn-phone" of the first "sms-recipient" is extracted. It is
       the phone number of the final recipient and it MUST be written in
       international form with country code, unless the number only
       works from inside a certain geographical area or a network. Note
       that some numbers may work from several networks but not from the
       whole world - these SHOULD be written in international form.
       According to [draft-allocchio-gstn-05], all international numbers
       MUST begin with a "+" character. Hyphens and dots are only to aid
       readability. They MUST NOT have any other meaning.

   2.  The "smsc-qualifier" of the first "sms-recipient" is extracted,
       if present.

   3.  The "pid-qualifier" of the first "sms-recipient" is extracted, if

   4.  The "sms-body" is extracted, if present.

   5.  The user agent should provide some means for message composition,
       either by implementing this itself, or by accessing a service
       providing it. Message composition SHOULD start with the body
       extracted from the "sms-body", if present. If the "pid-qualifier"
       is set to "pid=SMTP:...", then the user agents must make sure
       that the email address is correctly set (as defined by the SMS
       specification [SMS]) in the message being composed.

   6.  After message composition, a user agent SHOULD try to send the
       message first using the SMSC set in the "smsc-qualifier" (if
       present). If that fails, the user agent MAY try another SMSC.

   7.  If the URI consists of a comma-separated list of recipients (ie,
       contains multiple "sms-recipient" parts), all of them are
       processed in this manner. Exactly the same message SHOULD be sent
       to all of the listed recipients.

2.4 Examples of Use


   This indicates an SMS message capable recipient at the given
   telephone number. The message is sent using the user agent's default


   This indicates that the SMS message should be sent using the SMSC at
   the given number.

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   This URI should result in two SMS messages being sent, one to the
   recipient number as shown in the example above, the other one being
   sent as a fax to the second number (the fax is sent by the SMSC
   performing the gatewaying, not by the user agent).


   In this case, a message (initially being set to "hello there", which
   may have been modified by the user before sending) will be sent via
   SMS using the SMS to email functionality in the SMSC, so that it will
   eventually result in an email being sent to the specified email
   address. In this case, the phone number will not be interpreted.

2.5 Using "sms" URIs in HTML Forms

   When using a "sms" type URI as an action URI for HTML form submission
   [HTML401], the form contents MUST be packaged in the SMS message just
   as they are packaged when using a "mailto" URL [RFC2368], using the
   "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" MIME type, effectively packaging
   all form data into URI compliant syntax [RFC2396]. The SMS message
   MUST NOT contain any HTTP headers, only the form data. The MIME type
   is implicit. It MUST NOT be transferred in the SMS message.

   The character encoding used for form submissions MUST be UTF-8
   [RFC2279]. It should be noted, however, that user agents MUST
   URL-encode form submissions before sending them.

   The user agent SHOULD inform the user about the possible security
   hazards involved when submitting the form (it is probably being sent
   as plain text over an air interface).

   If the form submission is longer than the maximum SMS message size,
   the user agent MAY either concatenate SMS messages, if it is able to
   do so, or it MAY refuse to send the message. The user agent MUST NOT
   send out partial form submissions.

   Form submission via an "sms" URI can be combined with Telematic
   Interworking to result in form submissions being submitted via an SMS
   message and finally being sent to an email account. In this case, all
   provisions for using the email "pid-qualifier" and using "sms" URIs
   with HTML forms must be followed.

3. "sms" URIs and SMS Web Services

   In many cases, user agents will not be able to directly compose and
   send SMS messages (because this requires that such a service is

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   accessible to the system the user agent is running on). However, it
   is likely that the user has access to a Web service that provides an
   SMS service, such as a Web site offering form-based SMS composition.
   Ideally, the user agent should access this Web service when
   activating an "sms" URI, thus enabling the user to use the Web

   One problem with this approach is that the Web service should somehow
   get the "sms" URI, in order interpret it and set the required
   parameters (such as the receiver's phone number). The easiest way to
   implement this is for the user agent to add the "sms" URI as query
   string to the Web service's URI. Consequently, user agents supporting
   SMS Web services identified by URIs SHOULD append the "sms" URI as
   query string to the Web services URI when accessing the Web service.
   Web services providing SMS composition facilities SHOULD expect to
   receive an "sms" URI as query string and should process it as
   described by this memo. This method only can be applied for Web
   service URIs which permit query strings (such as "http" and "https"
   URIs). For other Web service URIs (such as "ftp" and "mailto"), user
   agents as well as Web services MUST NOT use the query string.

   It should be noted that RFC 2396 [RFC2396] defines that within query
   strings, the characters ";", "/", "?", ":", "@", "&", "=", "+", ",",
   and "$" are reserved. It is therefore necessary to encode the "sms"
   URI accordingly before appending it as query string.

3.1 Example

   A document contains this piece of (X)HTML:

   <a href="sms:+41796431851">Send me an SMS!</a>

   The user agent interpreting this document does not internally support
   SMS message composition, but has been configured to access a Web
   service for handling "sms" URIs. This Web service has the following

   When the user activates the "sms" URI (eg, by clicking on the text
   "Send me an SMS!"), the user agents acts as if the activated URI had

   The Web service is then responsible for parsing the query string and
   providing an approriate interface, for example by already filling in
   the recipient address with the number provided in the "sms" URI.

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4. Security Considerations

   The "Security Considerations" section of the SMS service registration
   memo [draft-wilde-sms-service-05] MUST be consulted.

   A user agent SHOULD NOT send out SMS messages without the knowledge
   of the user, because of associated risks, which include sending
   masses of SMS messages to a subscriber without his consent, and the
   costs involved in sending an SMS message.

   The user agent SHOULD have some mechanism that the user can use to
   filter out unwanted destinations for SMS messages. The user agent
   SHOULD also have some means of restricting the number of SMS messages
   being sent as the result of activating one "sms" URI.

   If an "sms" URI contains a pid-qualifier and the user agent supports
   the qualifier and its value, then the user agent MUST set the SMS
   message's PID as specified by the qualifier. User agents MAY inform
   users about the value and the functional consequences of PID
   qualifiers (eg, by notifying users that sending the SMS effectively
   will result in a fax message being delivered, rather than an SMS

   The method described in section Section 3 adds another level of
   indirection to the handling of "sms" URIs. If this method is combined
   with the pid-qualifier gateway functionality, SMS composition and
   reception will probably be distributed over three different protocols
   (the Web service, SMS transport itself, and the service selected by
   the pid-qualifier). User agent SHOULD make this clear to users
   (either when the Web service is being configured, or when it is

   The Telematic Interworking functionality of the SMSC addressed by the
   pid-qualifier is not necessarily implemented by the SMSC being used,
   and SMSC providers are known for not or not correctly supporting some
   or all pid-qualifier values. User agents SHOULD take into account
   that the success rate of SMS messages being sent using pid-qualifiers
   is lower than that of "plain" SMS messages.

5. Change Log

5.1 From -00 to -01

   o  Added the "sms-body" field and its processing rules.

   o  Added Section Section 3 about using "sms" URIs as query strings
      for SMS Web services.

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   o  Fixed typo in ABNF (said "global-phone" instead of "gstn-phone").

   o  Added some explanatory text about form submissions using email
      Telematic Interworking.

   o  Added some text about character encoding in form submissions.

5.2 From -01 to -02

   o  Changed the sms-body field to URL encoded UTF-8 characters.

5.3 From -02 to -03

   o  Changed ordering of "change Log" section (descending to

   o  Clarified the wording at the beginning of Section Section 2.2
      about only the keywords of the scheme being case-insensitive.

   o  Changed "sms-body" to be a URI query string.

   o  Added some text describing "sms" URIs as addressing resources.

5.4 From -03 to -04

   o  Updated reference to draft-allocchio-gstn (to revision -05).

5.5 From -04 to -05

   o  Updated reference to SMS spec [SMS] to the version referenced in
      the SMS service draft [draft-wilde-sms-service-05].

Normative References

   [HTML401]  Raggett, D., Le Hors, A. and I. Jacobs, "HTML 4.01
              Specification", W3C REC-html401, December 1999, <http://

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC2234]  Crocker, D. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", RFC 2234, November 1997.

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   [RFC2279]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
              10646", RFC 2279, January 1998.

   [RFC2396]  Berners-Lee, T., Fielding, R. and L. Masinter, "Uniform
              Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax", RFC 2396,
              August 1998.

   [SMS]      European Telecommunications Standards Institute, "ETSI TS
              100 901 (GSM 03.40 version 7.3.0 Release 1998): Digital
              Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2+); Technical
              realization of the Short Message Service (SMS);
              Point-to-Point (PP)", November 1999, <

              European Telecommunications Standards Institute, "ETSI TS
              100 901 (GSM 03.38 version 7.2.0 Release 1998): Digital
              Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2+); Alphabets
              and language-specific information", July 1999, <http://

              Allocchio, C., "Text string notation for Dial Sequences
              and GSTN / E.164 addresses", draft-allocchio-gstn-05 (work
              in progress), April 2003.

              Wilde, E., "Registration of GSTN SMS Service Qualifier",
              draft-wilde-sms-service-05 (work in progress), Jan 2004.

Non-Normative References

   [RFC2368]  Hoffmann, P., Masinter, L. and J. Zawinski, "The mailto
              URL scheme", RFC 2368, June 1998.

   [RFC2629]  Rose, M., "Writing I-Ds and RFCs using XML", RFC 2629,
              June 1999.

   [RFC2806]  Vaha-Sipila, A., "URLs for Telephone Calls", RFC 2806,
              April 2000.

   [RFC2838]  Zigmond, D. and M. Vickers, "Uniform Resource Identifiers
              for Television Broadcasts", RFC 2838, May 2000.

              World Wide Web Consortium, "URIs, URLs, and URNs:
              Clarifications and Recommendations 1.0", W3C
              uri-clarification , September 2001, <

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Authors' Addresses

   Erik Wilde
   Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
   8092 Zurich

   Phone: +41-1-6325132

   Antti Vaha-Sipila


Appendix A. Where to send Comments

   Please send all comments and questions concerning this document to
   Erik Wilde.

Appendix B. Acknowledgements

   This document has been prepared using the IETF document DTD described
   in RFC 2629 [RFC2629].

   Thanks to Claudio Allocchio for his comments.

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Internet-Draft    URI scheme for GSM Short Message Service      Jan 2004



   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
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