What is USSD?

Contents
  1. The old messaging technology making a comeback
  2. What is USSD?
  3. What can USSD do?
  4. How is USSD used?

The old messaging technology making a comeback

USSD stands for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data. Basically, it is another messaging protocol similar to SMS (Short Message Service) that most people use on a daily basis to send text messages. Like SMS, USSD is a product of a pre-smartphone era, when phones needed a way to communicate without full apps.

What is USSD?

USSD is a communication protocol that uses codes made up of characters available on a mobile phone. USSD messages can be up to 182 characters long and provide a real-time communication session between the phone and another device, usually a network or server.

The real-time aspect of USSD is made possible because communication between devices remains open at all times. This facilitates the exchange of data.

What can USSD do?

USSD is all about opening the line and sending data while the line is open. USSD can only send messages when connected, so it’s not a messaging service you might encounter with text messages.

All USSD connections start more or less the same way. You send a message to a code; The code is a combination of numbers and special characters.

Your operator will use this code to direct you to the correct service. By contacting the Service, you can access information, data, updates or simple applications provided by the Service.

How is USSD used?

One of the most common uses for USSD is prepaid phones. When purchasing a prepaid device, you can send a message to a code number to check your balance. The carrier can use the same connection to provide real-time balance updates.

It is also possible to deliver updates from social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter via USSD to receive updates as soon as possible.

Then there are apps built on top of USSD. You can choose the USSD code and return to the menu. You can use this menu to do just about anything from adding extra time to your prepaid phone to requesting information and even paying for services. USSD apps are very popular in some places like Africa.

USSD also has applications in banking. The fast and lightweight nature of USSD makes it ideal for balance requests and even transfers. Sending a message via USSD is faster than using a mobile banking app and can be done from almost any mobile device.

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