Re: Unicode, SMS, PDA/cellphones

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Thu Jun 01 2006 - 16:52:53 CDT

  • Next message: Richard Wordingham: "Re: Unicode, SMS, PDA/cellphones"

    Given the average lifetime of mobile phones of about 3 years (which depends mostly on its battery, one of the most expensive part of it), Idon't think it's too late.
    Modern mobile phones can handle more languages, have additional functions including web navigation where the support of Unicode would be a must including for Romanian. So they have the necessary buitl-in fonts to support extended sets of characters.

    Adding the support for SCSU or UTF-16 may be done by adding a profile descriptor in the GSM signaling between the mobile phone and the network. Note that all SMS must transit by special servers of the GSM network, so it's mostly a case for the adoption of a standard profile by the Romanian telecommunications regulator, and promotionof the support of this profile to mobile phone producers, and to TV production plalforms that transform the SMS received for display on TV.

    A standard profile option for SCSU or UTF-16 needs not be promoted only by Romanian authorities, as it interests many other countries too for various languages (and scripts). But a Romanian profile indicator set in the mobile phone would inform the GSM network about the capability of the mobile phone, and then these platforms could handle the conversion of characters to a more restricted set supported by the mobile phone. For Romania, I think that a profile made on European standard (MES-1 or more) or WGL4 would be fine. I see no reason why mobile phones can't handle the correct display of all these characters.

    Supporting the *input* of all these characters on the mobile phone is not strictly needed. The mobile phone input needs just to be profiled to match the Romanian usage when it is set to the Romanian language in its user's preferences menu.

    In fact I just wonder why mobile phones do not advertize to the mobile network their effective capabilities. There are other extensions proliferating that are supported only by a small set of mobile phones, and this absence of capability detection is a real *nuisance* for users, that must sometime pay to access to a mobile service that their mobile phone will finally not be able to render correctly. This is true for MMS (SMS with photo or video), and more generally for the web or iMode navigation functions.

    Having capabilities of mobile phones sent to the network would help the mobile phone operators knowing which capabilities are really supported (this means statistics on the installed phones connected to the network, and not just a list of secure phone identifiers and subscriber identifiers stored in the smartcard and advertized to the network), and they would better target their customers with the features they really have and want supported. A better internationalization is one of these demands.


    From: "Cristian Secară" <>
    > On Mon, 29 May 2006 10:57:02 -0700, Doug Ewell wrote:
    >> The Romanian translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    >> -- which is probably not representative of text that would be sent
    >> via SMS -- yield the following sizes:
    >> 12,841 bytes in UTF-8
    >> 12,454 bytes in SCSU (3% decrease)
    >> 13,498 bytes in BOCU-1 (5% increase)
    > That is an interesting intelectual game, but unfortunately in practice
    > it is of zero interest.
    > What I want to say, is that it is too late.
    > Today, in my country (Romania), no one uses extended characters in SMS
    > messages, except, perhaps, just a handful of some bizarre people who
    > like bizarre (read: useless) experiments.
    > There are many reasons for this situation:
    > - extended characters are more difficult to access from a phone
    > keyboard, so very few people are willing to extend their typing time
    > - first mobile phone generations were unable to generate Romanian
    > specific characters with their keyboard, even if a received message
    > w/ accented characters was, in some cases, correctly displayed
    > - very few peoples are aware that their [modern] phone can write
    > Romanian specific characters
    > - modern mobile phiones are able to write correctly, BUT there are a
    > couple of conditions for this:
    >  - the phone should have Romanian language included; this is usually
    >    true _only_ if that phone is sold officially in shops and it does
    >    usually not apply for phones purchased in whatever other country
    >  - the phone's menu should be set to Romanian; many young phone users
    >    are keeping their phone menu in English language, because so is
    >    "cool"
    > - some users will not attempt to actually use extended Romanian
    > characters when sending a SMS message, because they do not know if the
    > addressee's phone is able to display properly those characters; this
    > fear comes from computer usage, where this situation IS surprisingly
    > true (Yahoo mail is the best example)
    > - on TV there is (or was until recently) an avalanche of SMS user
    > feedback for any immagineable TV program; I know for sure that almost
    > all in-house built SMS software (used for on-screen display) are not
    > able to handle UCS-2 characters from SMS; in fact, associate SMS
    > software producers are not aware that such a situation even exist (i.e.
    > 16 bit per character in SMS messages), or have o idea about technical
    > details, like how to recognize if a random received message is 8 bit or
    > 16 bit
    > - very few peoples, like me, who know all those details, prefer _not_ to
    > send SMS w/ extended characters, because the 70 character size
    > limitation of a 16 bit SMS message is aberrant and shameless doubles+
    > the price
    > - should I mention that, if I write a message from my PC (using the
    > software that came with my phone, otherwise a powerful program) with
    > U+0218-021B Romanian characters, all phones will display blank squares
    > for these characters on the received message ?
    Orange vous informe que cet  e-mail a ete controle par l'anti-virus mail. 
    Aucun virus connu a ce jour par nos services n'a ete detecte.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Jun 01 2006 - 16:59:02 CDT