Equisys technical notes

Technical guidance, explanations and fixes for our products

PRB: Characters scrambled or truncated in SMS messages



ID: ZTN 1468

This Zetafax technical note applies to:

  • Zetafax V8.0 and above


  1. SMS messages received are displayed as scrambled (mixed symbols and letters) in the Zetafax Client.
  2. Messages are sending fine but are received by another SMS enabled Zetafax user or mobile handset incomplete.
  3. When using SMSMode: TEXT
    • SMS messages containing the '@' character get truncated at the position of the '@' character.
    • SMS messages containing extended ASCII characters (foreign language characters and specialist symbols) are not being converted properly. Some characters are missing or replaced by different characters and in some cases the message is completely scrambled.
  4. When using ZSubmit or the Zetafax API to send SMS messages
    • Same problems as described in 3. above
    • Longer messages are split into 2 or more SMS messages and not all are received or are only partially received.


There are a number of variables which can affect the resulting SMS messages sent using Zetafax. These include:

  • Some problems have been seen to be exclusive to particular service providers.
  • The GSM character set is a limited character set which does not support all characters specified in the extended ASCII character set, and so some characters are replaced by their nearest match, are extracted, or are replaced with a '?'  or ' '.


In some cases editing of the SMS device settings can assist in resolving the symptoms described above but not in all cases.

There are two modes of SMS in Zetafax, PDU and TEXT. PDU is the default and is supported by most devices. TEXT mode was introduced to help tackle some problems with PDU handling foreign characters. Having the wrong SMS mode set can cause scrambling of messages, so in many cases trying both modes can lead to finding the best mode for your device and provider combination. The SMSMode: TEXT (or) PDU is set in the Setup.ini in

< Program Files> \Zetafax Server\System\Z-DB\Setup.ini

In the paragraph for your SMS modem device.

"SMSMode: PDU" or "SMSMode: TEXT"

It can also help to specify another line in the device paragraph when using TEXT mode

"TextModeCharSet: GSM"


This has been identified by Equisys as a problem with the software versions given above.


ZTN1262 Unable to send SMS alerts with GSM modem

Last updated: 23/05/05 (BM/SV/EB/DH)


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