APN or MMSC

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Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 03:18 pm:   

So forget wifi - it is switched off - this is a mobile data question.

If I send a binary SMS to a phone instructing it to retrieve correctly formatted MMS content direct from my server, will the phone use the phone's APN or the MMSC IP address to pull down the content across the mobile operator's network. And how does the APN proxy or MMSC proxy fit into this?

Thanks for any insight - all information grateful received.
Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 03:35 pm:   

To give a bit more information, I'm trying to work out which route the "send me the content" request takes through the phone and network and how the MMSC (and MMSC proxy) and APN (and APN proxy) settings are interrelated.

Thank you again.
Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 12:48 am:   

This is from the NowSMS documentation in the section about sending MMS notifications direct to the phone.

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Note: When the “Send MMS Notification” function is used, the MMS Notification is sent to the recipient independent of the MMSC built-in to the gateway. The message recipient will fetch the message directly from the URL specified. As the message is not routed through the MMSC, the MMSC cannot provide dynamic content adaptation and conversion services.
=====

So when I send the binary SMS to instruct the phone to retrieve the MMS content, I am assuming that the phone uses the phone's APN setting and not the MMSC server setting to pull down the content. Is this correct?

So which setting is it that blocks this transfer on some phones/networks? Is it the APN proxy setting on the phone or is it something on the APN server-side?

Or am I way off the mark completely?

Anyone?
Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 01:31 am:   

More research, again from the NowSMS documentation where it describes a possible "solution" to the problems of direct sending to the phone.

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Change the settings in the receiving mobile phone so that it can receive messages from external MMSCs. This is usually just a matter of changing the GPRS APN and WAP Gateway IP address that is defined for the MMS client . You could change them to match the similar settings already configured for the WAP browser, which should allow access to external sites. Note that in doing this, you may no longer be able to send/receive MMS through the standard operator MMSC, so this is usually only a good solution for deployment in closed user communities.
=====

So this sound like the phone's MMSC server setting is the one the phone will use to retrieve MMS content but if this is changed to be the same as the phone's APN setting (which is used for other data transfer) then it may work, although normal MMS probably won't.

Am I getting close to understanding this?
Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 5
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 01:34 am:   

And as a final question in this puzzle, what do the APN proxy and MMSC proxy settings do? Why are they there if those servers are on the operator's network anyway?
Des - NowSMS Support
Board Administrator
Username: Desosms

Post Number: 5567
Registered: 08-2008
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 04:04 pm:   

The MMS Notification contains a URL with the MMS message content. (Binary content encoded in a WAP Push, usually sent over SMS.)

To fetch the URL, the phone connects to the APN configured for MMS in the phone's settings. Sometimes this is the same as the APN for internet access, other times it is different...it depends on the operator's infrastructure decisions...usually based on how they bill for MMS.

If an MMS proxy is configured, the retrieval request is routed via the proxy.

Those servers are on the operator network, but phones are generally preconfigured to know the settings for different operators.

--
Des
NowSMS Support
Maisie Moo
New member
Username: Maisiemoo

Post Number: 6
Registered: 02-2016
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 06:31 pm:   

Thanks very much Des. That's what I had figured out by going through the documentation, trawling the 'Net etc.

So here is one final question.

If the network operator has choosen to charge for Internet data transferred through the Internet Access APN but not for MMS data transferred through the MMS APN, is there a possibility that a user could still be charged for MMS data that goes through the MMS APN?

In other words, could their infrastructure detect that the requested MMS content URL (included in a binary sap-push type of SMS) is outside of their network and charge the user for the data transfer anyway, even though that request was routed through the normally "free of charge" MMS APN? Can they differentiate at that level of detail do you think?

Thanks again - this forum really is a goldmine of valuable information.
Des - NowSMS Support
Board Administrator
Username: Desosms

Post Number: 5569
Registered: 08-2008
Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 01:45 pm:   

Anything is possible, but when a separate APN is used for MMS, what we have observed is that traffic through that APN is not charged. However the data connection on that network is to a private network that can only access the operator MMSC. Mistakes that allow other external access are possible but highly unlikely.

When the same APN is used for MMS and internet, data traffic to/from the MMSC is sometimes charged, and sometimes not. (Many charging systems use Deep Packet Inspection in their rules for what is chargeable and what is not. Less advanced systems just use byte counters from the GGSN/APN.)

One interesting observation we received from a customer using a pre-paid device on the AT&T network in the US (GoPhone). They use the same APN for internet and MMS. If you have a data allowance, MMS counts against it. But MMS is also available in plans with no data allowance. When a subscriber is on a plan without a data allowance, the regular APN acts as an MMS only APN, allowing traffic to/from the operator MMSC.

Unfortunately, it is rare to find a country where all the major operators use their internet APN for MMS. Using a GSM modem or Android device to route messages via the operator MMSC is often a good alternative, but in many countries MMS pricing from the operators is still too high. (The US operators get it and charge the same for SMS and MMS. End users don't necessarily know the difference between SMS and MMS, and high MMS pricing drives end users to OTT alternatives such as WhatsApp.)

--
Des
NowSMS Support

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