How it works

How it works

Cell Broadcast is the most reliable and effective mobile technology for mass message broadcast.

Cell broadcast explained

Watch the video below to understand the fundamental principles and applications.


To the end user, Cell Broadcast resembles SMS very closely, but in terms of implementation it is far more practical. The technology works on a one-to-many basis, so that one message can be sent to many millions of devices, instantly. Messages are broadcast to all phones connected to the network in the target area, making it a truly location-specific service.

As the broadcaster has no way of knowing who receives the message, Cell Broadcast is anonymous and does not require any mobile subscribers to register. Cell Broadcast has been included in all major standards including GSM, CDMA, UMTS(3G) and LTE, so is already available to deploy on the majority of networks.

Importantly, Cell Broadcast utilizes dedicated network signalling, different from voice and data capacity and is therefore not affected by network congestion, making it ideal for emergency alerts.

SMS versus Cell Broadcast

SMS versus Cell Broadcast

Short Message Service (SMS)


Cell Broadcast (CELL BROADCAST)

Messages sent point-to-point Transmission type Messages sent point-to-area
Required. Requires specific phone numbers to be known Mobile Number dependency Independent. Does not require phone numbers to be known
No. Only pre-registered numbers will be notified; message will be received regardless of actual location Location based targeting Yes. All phones within a targeted geographical area (cells) will be notified.
Static messages will be sent to pre-registered numbers. Message type Location specific. Tailored messages can be sent to different areas.
Direct. Users can receive messages and respond directly to the sender via SMS. Bi-directionality Indirect. The message should contain a URL or number to reply.
Subject to network congestion. Delivery is queued. Congestion can occur Congestion and delay CELL BROADCAST is always available.
140-160 characters. Longer 'concatenated' messages are supported. Message length 93 characters. Longer 'multiple page’ messages are supported.
Poor authenticity. The source of the message cannot be verified. Security Good security. Only the mobile operator can broadcast messages.
No barring. Service barring Yes. Users can turn off CELL BROADCAST reception or a specific channel.
By default. When phone is turned on messages can be received. Reception Requires action. CELL BROADCAST needs to be turned on in order to receive messages.
Yes. Senders can request delivery confirmation. Delivery confirmation No. Confirmation of delivery to the handset is not available, however actual broadcast in the network is.
No repetition rate. Repetition rate Yes. Can be repeated between 2 seconds and 32 minutes.
No. Identical to all receivers. Language selection Yes. Messages can be broadcasted in subscriber’s preferred language
Yes. Message storage Handset dependant.


Through its involvement in numerous standardisation bodies, one2many is active in driving uptake of Cell Broadcast as a global service and enhancing the applications that Cell Broadcast enables.

Read about standardisation