MO vs MT messaging – what is the difference between them? 


The world of SMS is full of acronyms that might confuse you, especially if more than one term is used for the same thing. So, we decided to help you learn this specific language. Being familiar with SMS industry jargon is half the battle.   

We’re starting with MO vs MT messages. Industry experts and professionals often use these two terms.

What do these acronyms mean?  

Let’s start with the MO message.

1. What is an MO message?

The term MO message stands for “mobile originated” messaging. This type of message refers to a message sent from a mobile phone. More precisely, this is a message that customer/subscriber sends from mobile phone to mobile marketing and mobile SMS provider through the SMS platform. 

This means that MO message is the first step in the SMS marketing journey after marketer informs people/customers they can participate and win or get some benefit by sending a message with a specific keyword to a dedicated short code or virtual number.

For instance, if pizza restaurant wants to reward its loyal customers with special discount SMS voucher, it can organize and market this SMS marketing campaign by sending SMS info to those customers who have already opted in to receive notifications from their favourite pizza place. Or it can share the update via its social media profiles, or even advert on its walls. The next step is MO message, coming from the customer who wants to participate. He needs to send a keyword to a specific number to participate and win.


Step 1: Marketing message sent via SMS or promoted through other online/offline marketing channels:

“Send PIZZA to 1234 for 20% off your next order!”

Step 2: Customer sends MO message consisting of:

Keyword: PIZZA  

Shortcode: 1234

The whole point is that mobile originated message originates from the phone and is being sent to the system via shortcode or specific virtual number.

2. What is an MT message?

The term MT message stands for “mobile terminated” message. This means that MT message is being terminated on the mobile phone or, to put it simply, this is a message sent from mobile SMS provider system to subscriber’s mobile phone. So this message is terminated at the mobile phone; hence the name mobile terminated. This type of SMS message can be triggered by MO message as a response to a specific action taken by the customer sending MO message to the system. Once the system receives customer’s mobile originated message (keyword PIZZA sent to short code 1234), the shortcode sends back a new message to customer’s phone. This is a mobile terminated (MT) message.

In the use case we used previously, when a customer sends keyword PIZZA to 1234 (shortcode), this MO message triggers the response message (mobile terminated / MT message) carrying discount SMS voucher and information like: “Show this voucher for 20% off your next order.”

To conclude, the whole process starts with mobile originated (MO) message and ends with mobile terminated (MT) message.  

If you want to learn more about the MO/MT message types, read our blog post about A2P SMS Messaging for Enterprises