What is MMS messaging (Multimedia Message Service)?

Multimedia message service, or MMS for short, is a channel built with the introduction of SMS messaging to offer the additional ability to send multimedia messages rather than just text.

Although today’s world relies on newer chat apps to send media, MMS remains a widely used communication channel.

Unlike text-only SMS, MMS delivers a variety of media, including video, images, slideshows, and audio. It supports a higher text character limit. Today’s most common use of MMS in business is sending things like coupons, product images and videos, and other information.

How is an MMS message delivered?

MMS delivery is different from SMS. A sent MMS message first goes through encoding so recipient devices can read the incoming media. The message is then forwarded to the carrier’s multimedia messaging service center (MMSC). If the recipient is not on the same carrier, the MMSC will deliver the message to the recipient MMSC over the Internet.

Recipient devices must support MMS in receiving and opening MMS messages. Content is extracted and sent to a temporary storage server if the device supports MMS standards. An SMS control message containing a URL to the content is then sent to the recipient’s handset to trigger the receiver’s WAP browser to open and receive the content from the embedded URL.

Several other messages are exchanged to indicate the status of the delivery attempt. Before delivering content, some MMSCs also include a conversion service that will attempt to modify the multimedia content into a format suitable for the receiver.

For any devices that do not support MMS, recipients will need to view content in a standard Internet browser using the file URL that they will receive as a text message.

MMS messaging examples for businesses

Here are MMS messaging examples for various use cases across different verticals:

eCommerce and retail



Travel and hospitality

Technology and communication

Transportation and logistics

How are MMS and SMS similar?

MMS works similarly to SMS but extends core capabilities.

Both MMS and SMS are built upon the same cellular network infrastructure used by traditional phone calls. This means they have similar dependability and wide reach.

Unlike internet-based messaging apps, both MMS and SMS rely on the recipient’s phone number for delivery. You don’t need their username or app-specific contact details.

MMS and SMS are sent through your mobile carrier’s network. This means their delivery is subject to the recipient’s cellular coverage and any network limitations imposed by their carrier.

How are MMS and SMS different?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of MMS and SMS:

160 character limitHigher limit than SMS – dependent on the provider
Send text onlySend text, video, images
InexpensiveMore expensive than SMS
Any mobile phone can receive an SMSNot all mobile phones can receive MMS
Ideal for immediate communication (i.e., reminders, announcements, updates, 2FA)Ideal for creative messages (i.e., promotions, coupons, QR codes)

If you want a more in-depth comparison, refer to our guide:

MMS messaging vs. iMessage, WhatsApp, and other OTT channels

iMessage (Apple Messages for Business) is Apple’s proprietary messaging service. It’s limited to users with Apple devices but offers various features like interactive effects, Memoji, and Apple Pay integration. iMessage relies on an Internet connection (Wi-Fi or data) and is generally free for users, though businesses may incur fees when connecting via Apple Messages for Business.

WhatsApp is a globally popular cross-platform messaging app owned by Meta. It offers features similar to iMessage, document sharing, group chats, and voice/video calling. WhatsApp also requires an Internet connection and, while generally free to use, offers additional paid features for business accounts.

Other OTT (over-the-top) channels, such as Messenger and Live Chat, function similarly to WhatsApp. Their reach depends on the platform’s popularity, with some boasting massive regional dominance. They offer rich features like chatbots, integrated payments, and unique platform-specific capabilities. All require an internet connection and are usually free for users, with paid options available for businesses.

Choosing the right channel depends on factors like your target audience’s preferences, the type of message you’re sending, required features, cost, and network reliability. Many businesses successfully combine MMS and OTT channels to reach their customers effectively.


Mar 8th, 2024
6 min read

You could be interested in