Send Turkish SMS without Unicode (locking shift table?)

Send Turkish SMS without Unicode (locking shift table?) SearchSearch
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New member
Username: Oyuz

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2010
Posted on Monday, December 06, 2010 - 11:40 pm:   


I have a question about sending SMS messages using Turkish national characters. Specifically, these characters are a problem:

Ğ, ğ, Ş, ş, İ, ı, ç (upper case Ç is ok?)

I can send messages that contain these characters ok, but NowSMS encodes the messages with Unicode. This means if I send a message longer than 70 characters, it costs me to send two or more messages ... instead of normal 160 character limit.

But in Turkey I have heard that there is a way to send these national characters without forcing the whole message to use Unicode encoding. I do not know how it works, but I have heard that this feature is called a locking shift table. Instead of the standard GSM 7-bit character table, mobile phones in Turkey must support a locking shift table that replaces the GSM characters with national characters for Turkey.

Can NowSMS support this SMS locking shift table?
Bryce Norwood - NowSMS Support
Board Administrator
Username: Bryce

Post Number: 7944
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - 05:29 pm:   

Hi Oyuz,

The fact that messages that contain characters outside of the GSM character set require Unicode encoding and are limited to 70 characters per message instead of the expected 160 character limit, is indeed frustrating for many languages.

The shift tables that you mention are a relatively new development. There is a concept of a locking shift table that replaces the GSM 7-bit character set, and a single shift table which provides additional characters.

You are correct that these shift tables can replace and extend the default GSM 7-bit character set table so that more national characters can fit into a single SMS.

We've received a number of inquiries from handset testing labs about them, but I'm not sure that they are used in production systems. (Perhaps they are in active use in Turkey as I can see that there was national legislation there that prompted the 3GPP to develop a solution.)

In addition to Turkey, there are shift tables defined for the Spanish and Portuguese languages. These were all added in 3GPP release 8 (3GPP TS 23.038 and 23.040), which only started being released in 2008.

The Spanish table adds ç, Á, Í, Ó, Ú, á, í, ó, and ú.

The Portuguese table adds even more accented characters, including Ã, Õ, and well, a complete list probably is not necessary here.

3GPP Release 9 adds 10 shift tables for languages of the Indian subcontinent: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil , Telugu, and Urdu.

We are actively working on adding shift table support (single shift and locking shift) for a future update of NowSMS, which should be available early in 2011. This support will encompass shift tables for all of the languages that I've listed above, with the ability to add support for future shift tables via simple text INI file edits.

If you are interested in testing this update, please send an e-mail message to with Attetion: Bryce in the subject line, and we will let you know when this support is available for testing. Because these specifications are still relatively new, I think it will be mostly of use to handset testers at this time.


Admin note: SMS Shift table support has been added to NowSMS. Additional information can be found at the following links: