Segments and Encodings

In Spoke, SMS messages are billed by the segment, rather than the whole message. To learn about MMS messages, scroll to the MMS section below.

What is a segment?

A segment is a component of a larger overall text message. You can think of it as a single page in a letter. You can read more about segments here

Most of the time, an SMS segment can be up to 160 characters. An SMS message under 160 characters will often be one segment, while a message between 160 and 320 characters will be 2 segments. 

However, depending on the characters present in your message, your message may be encoded differently. Encoding can affect the number of characters that networks can fit into a single segment.

What is character encoding?

The most common and efficient character encoding is called GSM. Most standard characters will be able to be encoded using GSM encoding. If you use certain characters like emojis (e.g., 🙂), non-English characters (e.g. í, ü), or certain punctuation (e.g. `, – ), your message will require Unicode character encoding. Unicode is limited to 70 characters per segment.

Segments within Spoke

To help you keep track of the number of segments you're sending, we've added a segment counter that also informs you of the character set with which your message is likely to be encoded. This counter is only relevant for SMS messages, not MMS.
For example, when typing an emdash (—), you can see the character set switch to Unicode and the segment count and characters left adjust accordingly:

GSM Encoded Message

Unicode Encoded Message

Segments within Spoke exports

By using the Export Data button from the individual campaign page, you will be emailed two links to download your data exports. The second of these is your messages export, where you can find a breakdown of the number of segments on a particular campaign. For a more robust segment breakdown, please email 

How is MMS different?

Unlike SMS, MMS pricing does not take into consideration the number of characters. When you include an image with your text, the entire text will be priced at our MMS price of $0.03, regardless of length. 

Note: Spoke has a universal limit of 1600 characters for any text.

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