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Old 06-24-2021, 09:59 AM   #1
newbiesforever
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is there a real difference between texting and e-mailing?


A few years ago, I learned the trick to send an e-mail to someone's phone as a text message. (You just have to know the e-mail domain used by the phone service provider, of course.) I've been using this to text people from my computer while waiting for my new phone to arrive. Today it occurred to me to wonder: based on this knowledge, is there any real difference between a text message and an e-mail? Since a mobile phone is just a computer in a small shell communicating with (probably) another small computer. What I'm getting at is, do texting and e-mail only look different?
 
Old 06-24-2021, 10:34 AM   #2
pan64
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no, in general you can have attachments and there is no size limit (for emails).
 
Old 06-24-2021, 10:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
What I'm getting at is, do texting and e-mail only look different?
No, they are different things, using different protocols. (SMS and SMTP)

Any service that can trigger an SMS via an email is converting between those protocols.


Last edited by boughtonp; 06-24-2021 at 10:56 AM.
 
Old 06-24-2021, 12:23 PM   #4
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The most accurate, solid, definitive answer is a resounding "perhaps"?

Mail is routed very differently than SMS, and generally goes through very different servers. In the hybrid case, emailing to an SMS server, the path is split so that they mail goes via mail routing, then the payload goes from the SMS server to the phone via SMS routing.

There are security considerations, but in general SMS is just slightly more secure than EMAIL, and neither one should be trusted without encryption in play. The hybrid case has all of the vulnerabilities of both.

For traffic where security does not matter, for practical purposes the differences matter very little and are not readily apparent.

Note: it is much harder to handle a bidirectional conversation in the hybrid case, since the reverse routing is not well defined. Someone has to do some very tricky coding to get it to work at all, and then it breaks easily. Most companies do not bother, since it has little business advantage and is not at all standard.

There are other ways of messaging that us only the data connections (IP networking) using protocols that either use a mesh or Peer-Peer based network, matrix, or a messaging server. These have a range of security values ranging form "wide open" to node-to-node encrypted and non-trackable. Even some for nodes on the same local network that are non-routable. Calling these "texting" can be a bit misleading, although they hadle text well but can often be used for file transfer, image transfer, remote control, and other interesting use cases.

It becomes important that you specify what you mean by "texting", but the most correct case is that by "texting" you mean delivery to a cell device using the SMS protocol. That is what we have assumed you to mean.


Has any of this helped?
 
Old 06-24-2021, 05:24 PM   #5
newbiesforever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wpeckham View Post
The most accurate, solid, definitive answer is a resounding "perhaps"?

Mail is routed very differently than SMS, and generally goes through very different servers. In the hybrid case, emailing to an SMS server, the path is split so that they mail goes via mail routing, then the payload goes from the SMS server to the phone via SMS routing.

There are security considerations, but in general SMS is just slightly more secure than EMAIL, and neither one should be trusted without encryption in play. The hybrid case has all of the vulnerabilities of both.

For traffic where security does not matter, for practical purposes the differences matter very little and are not readily apparent.

Note: it is much harder to handle a bidirectional conversation in the hybrid case, since the reverse routing is not well defined. Someone has to do some very tricky coding to get it to work at all, and then it breaks easily. Most companies do not bother, since it has little business advantage and is not at all standard.

There are other ways of messaging that us only the data connections (IP networking) using protocols that either use a mesh or Peer-Peer based network, matrix, or a messaging server. These have a range of security values ranging form "wide open" to node-to-node encrypted and non-trackable. Even some for nodes on the same local network that are non-routable. Calling these "texting" can be a bit misleading, although they hadle text well but can often be used for file transfer, image transfer, remote control, and other interesting use cases.

It becomes important that you specify what you mean by "texting", but the most correct case is that by "texting" you mean delivery to a cell device using the SMS protocol. That is what we have assumed you to mean.


Has any of this helped?
It rather did, thanks; and yes, I meant SMS.
 
Old 06-24-2021, 11:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
A few years ago, I learned the trick to send an e-mail to someone's phone as a text message. (You just have to know the e-mail domain used by the phone service provider, of course.) I've been using this to text people from my computer while waiting for my new phone to arrive. Today it occurred to me to wonder: based on this knowledge, is there any real difference between a text message and an e-mail? Since a mobile phone is just a computer in a small shell communicating with (probably) another small computer. What I'm getting at is, do texting and e-mail only look different?
That sounds like a neat trick.
Would you share with us how to do it?
I would like to test this.
How did you find out the email domain of your service provider? How do you define the email address?
 
Old 06-24-2021, 11:42 PM   #7
!!!
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lmgtfy: wiki smtp to sms gateway list
https://avtech.com/articles/138/list...-sms-addresses

But the trick is to know which carrier.
Sometimes searching the first part of the phone number reveals the carrier.
 
Old 06-25-2021, 08:50 AM   #8
onebuck
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Moderator Response

Moved: This thread is more suitable in <General> and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 06-25-2021, 12:35 PM   #9
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by !!! View Post
lmgtfy: wiki smtp to sms gateway list
https://avtech.com/articles/138/list...-sms-addresses

But the trick is to know which carrier.
Sometimes searching the first part of the phone number reveals the carrier.
The number USED to help guess the carrier, it no longer does. Once it became law and common use for the user to take their phone number with them when they change carriers, it became seriously unreliable. The best way might be to just ask. (I mean, obviously you HAVE their phone number, so why not?)
 
Old 06-26-2021, 05:19 AM   #10
TenTenths
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Just to throw in, many mobile providers (certainly in Ireland / UK) provide web based access to send SMS messages. Vodafone in Ireland calls it "Webtext" (they must have been up all night thinking THAT name up).

There's also any number of providers that can send SMS via a paid-for API interface, Twilio and Clickatell are two I've direct experience with and use.

Interestingly some of these API providers allow setting of an alphanumeric "source" for the SMS, and this is how scammers can send texts that come from "YourBank"

You can also buy inbound SMS services and then have a programatical back-end so you could set up to trigger anything you want from an SMS message.
 
Old 06-26-2021, 10:53 AM   #11
newbiesforever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
That sounds like a neat trick.
Would you share with us how to do it?
I would like to test this.
How did you find out the email domain of your service provider? How do you define the email address?
Since I honestly supposed that the sort of people who use LQ probably knew the principle perfectly well and I'm just "late to the party," I expect you're being sarcastic. (In general, I never assume I know something other LQ users don't know. I'm usually correct.) But in case you're not, I'll answer.

A few years ago, my church asked me to figure out how to use their database software's messaging to send a message to a committee member's mobile phone. Researching it, I discovered on some source (I probably just entered something like "how to e-mail a phone") that most major mobile service providers attach an e-mail domain to phone numbers. The e-mail address will be the number (no hyphens) @ the domain. I know only one off the top of my head: Verizon's is @vtext.com. Sprint's used to be @messaging.sprintpcs.com, but it may no longer be, because Sprint recently merged with T-Mobile. Anyway, this must be how computers send people text messages like inclement weather alerts.

My source mentioned a certain kind of phone service that does not do this. I forget the criteria, but it includes Tracfone.

So...I thought: if the computer is just sending e-mail to a phone--and they're all computers, whether a mobile phone or a desktop computer--what's the difference? But I didn't really know that e-mail must convert to SMS protocol, as this thread explained.

Last edited by newbiesforever; 06-26-2021 at 11:02 AM.
 
Old 06-26-2021, 11:55 AM   #12
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
Since I honestly supposed that the sort of people who use LQ probably knew the principle perfectly well and I'm just "late to the party," I expect you're being sarcastic. (In general, I never assume I know something other LQ users don't know. I'm usually correct.) But in case you're not, I'll answer.

A few years ago, my church asked me to figure out how to use their database software's messaging to send a message to a committee member's mobile phone. Researching it, I discovered on some source (I probably just entered something like "how to e-mail a phone") that most major mobile service providers attach an e-mail domain to phone numbers. The e-mail address will be the number (no hyphens) @ the domain. I know only one off the top of my head: Verizon's is @vtext.com. Sprint's used to be @messaging.sprintpcs.com, but it may no longer be, because Sprint recently merged with T-Mobile. Anyway, this must be how computers send people text messages like inclement weather alerts.

My source mentioned a certain kind of phone service that does not do this. I forget the criteria, but it includes Tracfone.

So...I thought: if the computer is just sending e-mail to a phone--and they're all computers, whether a mobile phone or a desktop computer--what's the difference? But I didn't really know that e-mail must convert to SMS protocol, as this thread explained.
I once maintained a farm of servers with a mixture of data servers and web servers (on separate subnets) with QA monitoring. The monitoring was set to email alerts to my team.

Email being so terribly unreliable, I set up alerts to send SMS to the phones using the email domains described above. We all had phones from different providers. I kept a book of those domains in case someone ever changed providers.

Alas, I left it for my replacement when I left that company. If you look at the help/support pages for the providers, they do not keep those a secret: they are available.

You just need to know what the service provider is, and that is best discovered by asking.

Last edited by wpeckham; 06-26-2021 at 11:57 AM.
 
Old 06-26-2021, 01:16 PM   #13
newbiesforever
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You just need to know what the service provider is, and that is best discovered by asking.
Yeah, they never looked particularly hard to find. It wasn't a trade secret that would have lost the companies money.
 
Old 06-29-2021, 02:39 AM   #14
ondoho
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Since I was so gently reminded to never ask a question anywhere on the internet without ddg'ing it first, I did just that. Some general searches, some specific to my provider, and all I came up with is this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by wpeckham View Post
USED to
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbiesforever View Post
used to
I don't think it's just magically possible to email a phone number. Or that every phone number somehow magically has an email address associated with it.
No, this needs to be installed & maintained by the providers, and since it effectively allows sending SMS for free, I'm sure they would advertise if it was (still) available.
 
Old 06-29-2021, 02:44 AM   #15
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A lot of it went away when "number portability" came in. Before then an Irish "087" number was Vodafone, now, could be any of the main or virtual carriers so impossible to match up.
 
  


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