CB – Cell Broadcast (Technology with great potentail)

CB –cell broadcast ,as the name specifies it is a service used by mobile operators to broadcast messages.
Broadcast messages can reach all the mobiles under a tower or the entire country (
Only handsets that have CB-channels activated will receive the messages). It’s fast and it’s real-time! Send-ing a message to millions of handsets is indeed a matter of seconds.

Cell Broadcast was defined in 1993 in phase 2 of the GSM standard. It was not until May 1996 that a German operator started a project to investigate the possibilities of a commercial Cell Broadcast service. The first commercial system was launched in March 1998 in Lebanon.

SMS-CB offers the ability to differentiate the push messages depending on the location. Messages can be broadcast to areas as small as one single radio cell, as big as the entire network and any cluster of areas in between. No other mature technology offers such a feature.

words, SMS-CB messages are directed to radio cells, rather than to a specific terminal. SMS-CB is an unconfirmed push service, meaning that the originator of the message does not know who has received the message, allowing for services based on anonymity.

A Cell Broadcast Entity (CBE) is a multi-user front-end that allows the definition and control of SMS-CB messages. A CBE can be located at the site of a content provider.

At the site of the operator a so-called Cell Broadcast Centre (CBC) is located. The CBC is the heart of the Cell Broadcast System and acts as a server for all CBE clients. It takes care of the administration of all SMS-CB messages it receives from the CBEs and does the communication towards the GSM network. The GSM network itself takes care of delivering the SMS-CB messages to the mobile terminals.

This technology is used in deploying location-based subscriber services, such as regional auctions, local weather, traffic conditions and ‘nearest’ services (like requesting the nearest service station or restaurant).

To recieve a broadcast message the mobile subsciber must tune into that broadcast channel. Most modern mobiles are equipped with this technology and the hadsets will be preactivated to recieve broadcast messages. A single broadcast message can contain upto 1395 characters, and equivalent of 8 normal SMS message.Broadcast messages have a dedicated channel of their own and they in no way add any load to the existing network.

Broadcast Advantages

Location sensitive

Fast and efficient message delivery

No additional network traffic

Real time communication (less than 5 sec delivery time)

Support binary messages (ringtones, logos, OTA configurations)

No storage required

No need to know the telephone numbers of the mobiles

Possible Services

1 Cell information

Perhaps the most common service is broadcast of cell information. Most networks already have this service on channel 50, which is done without a CBC.

2 Events

Important Events happening in the city or country can be broadcasted .

3 Advertising

Cell Broadcast is well suited for advertising. However, it must be kept in mind that there must be a balance between advertising and ‘useful’ information, otherwise the Handset User may turn off the channel

4 Traffic Information Service

In-car navigation systems become increasingly more popular, especially for the business drivers that travel from destination to destination. Cell Broadcast is a very efficient bearer for information about traffic jams or road works, so the navigation system can calculate an alternate route.

5 Operator Information

The network operator can use Cell Broadcast to announce tariff changes, advertise for products and ser-vices, perhaps in exchange for free logos or ring tones to keep the Handset User interested in the channel.

6 Auctions

Mobile auctions can start with a Cell Broadcast message. Users can enter their bids through SMS, or IVR and the end of the auction can again be announced with a broadcast message.

7 Emergency notification

Emergency services are one of the most wanted location-based services that people would like to have on their mobile telephone (according to Harris Interactive US market study on LBS). This preference for emer-gency services exists because local calamities are a fact of life: environmental disasters like Tornadoes, Typhoons, Tsunami and volcano eruptions; major traffic calamities; industrial disasters like explosions and recently terrorist actions happen all over the world.

8 M-Marketing

A Mobile Marketing campaign is an activity where a company needs access to a large group who are will-ing to co-operate in a survey. The group of Handset Users is already large (hundreds of thousand to many millions of subscribers), and is still growing. These Handset Users might be willing when given the right incentive. Cell Broadcast can be used to trigger responses. Responses given through SMS or IVR are used to build a database with valuable marketing information.

Vision and Future

Mobile handset user:

Cell Broadcast will be the reliable, location specific, source of information, Today it’s text, tomorrow it will be pictures and the day after it will be video. In case of emergencies, using a mobile handset will be the reliable way of receiving information – fast – through Cell Broadcast messages send by authorities.

Government authority:

Because of the growth of mobile telephone users, the immense popularity of mobile telephones, Cell Broadcast is the ultimate way to communicate to citizen in case of emergency. Even those people, who do not have a mobile telephone, will be informed by the people who have it.

Network Operator:

Cell Broadcast will boost revenues for SMS, MMS, WAP and IVR services. From Operator Customer Loyalty perspective: offering Cell Broadcast information, in cooperation with Government authorities, will help your customers receiving the right information, on the right moment, on the right location, from a reliable source, via the mobile telephone.


Right now only text and binary messages can be broadcasted. But as 3G phone become more and more popular 3G broadcast services will be available. Streaming audio and video will be available on broadcast channels. Those kind of technologies will ensure that a mobile user has access to all the radio and TV channels on his mobile phone itself.

Questions coming to your mind ?

Q: How can I send a Cell Broadcast message?
A: This is not possible. Only an operator/content provider can send messages.

Q: Will Cell Broadcast expose my position to the operator or content provider?
A: No. Since Cell Broadcast does not address individual mobile phones, it does not need to know your position.

Q: Do I have Cell Broadcast on my mobile phone?
A: Probably Yes. Most modern Cell Broadcast GSM phones support Cell Broadcast. The name could be different i.e. Local info, cell info are also used as names for Cell Broadcast on mobile phones.

Q: How do I activate Cell Broadcast on my mobile phone?
A: Please check your mobile phone manual or call the customer care.

Q: I would like to receive only messages with are of interest to me.
How do I block SPAM?
A: As a mobile phone user you can yourself decide which Cell Broadcast channels to activate.

Q: Is Cell Broadcast also available in the new 3G networks?
A: Yes, the service is called Service Area Broadcast (SAB) in 3G and delivers the same functionality with enhanced capacity on the air-interface.

Q: Is it possible to send EMS-content over a Cell Broadcast channel?
A: Yes, in February 2002, EMS content (logos, icons, ring tones, etc..) being sent over a Cell Broadcast channel has been standardised. Handsets manufacturers will follow these 3GPP specifications.

Q: Can I receive Cell Broadcast messages from my home country in a different country?
A: No. Cell Broadcast provides location speicific messages, and are limited to the network of the operator you are connected to.

Q: What is the length of a Cell Broadcast message?
A: One Cell Broadcast message contains up to 15 pages of 93 characters each.

Q: Why does my operator not have Cell Broadcast.
A: Probably they did not discover the power of Cell Broadcast yet.

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