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How to set up an SMS hub
An SMS hub is a stand-alone system which allows you to send and receive large numbers of text messages via the mobile phone network, without needing to be connected to the internet or to any other computer network.
This guide will introduce you to FrontlineSMS - a tool specifically designed for use by NGOs which can be used with a mobile phone or GSM modem.
What software you can use
The simplest tool to use is FrontlineSMS.
What hardware you will need
FrontlineSMS will run on any desktop or laptop running Microsoft Windows (98, 2000, XP, XP Pro or Vista), Linux (Ubuntu, Redhat, Mandrake, etc) or Apple Mac (OSX, Tiger or Leopard operating systems). Users on Windows Vista should be aware that they may have trouble getting Vista drivers for their GSM modems. The full installation requires approximately 85Mb of free disk space, and a free USB port (1.1 or 2.0) to connect a GSM device.
Due to the wide variety of GSM phones available in the marketplace, and subtle differences in how they interact with the FrontlineSMS system (primarily the way each communicates with the computer), not all phones will work with the software. By all means feel free to try out whichever handset is available to you, but it is highly recommended that you fully test functionality in advance of using the system in a live environment. FrontlineSMS is fully compatible with the Wavecom Fastrack modem (serial version with a USB adapter), and the Falcom SAMBA 75 USB modem. Most standard GSM modems will work, but they should be tested first.
Your GSM device will need to be connected to the laptop or desktop computer using a genuine data cable (some cables are badly made copies, and will not work) or equivalent for your chosen handset. A number of unbranded cables tried during testing were not recognised by the handset or computer. In short, most GSM phones connected to your laptop or computer via a serial or USB cable and which load up via a COM port or a Windows telephony device, should be recognised by the FrontlineSMS system.
What documentation is available
How easy is it to do?
FrontlineSMS is relatively easy to install and use if you follow these basic steps:
1. Request a copy of FrontlineSMS from the Request Download page of the website
2. Follow the instructions you receive via email to download your copy of the software
3. Install the software on your computer
4. Set up and install the drivers for your mobile phone, modem and/or cable, following the relevant user guide
5. With your mobile device attached, start up FrontlineSMS
6. If your phone is fully supported and properly configured, it will appear in the Phones tab
7. If you have any problems, consult the programme's Help menu, or the online Troubleshooting Guide
How much will it cost?
When you send a message with Frontline SMS you will pay the standard SMS sending rate for the account you are using.
If you are planning on sending a lot of messages its a good idea to ask your operator if they have a special rate for sending large amounts of messages through a 'Short Message Service Center (SMSC)'.
Other things you should know
The latest version of FrontlineSMS has just been launched, and is undergoing continual improvement and enhancement. Join the online community to keep up to date with the latest news.