Hardware Basics


RapidSMS is designed to run on any standard computer paired with a standard GPRS modem or certain models of cell phones.


For field based deployments, we recommend installing RapidSMS on a low-power Netbook (preferably a model with a long battery life) but any computer will do. For larger deployments of RapidSMS, a standard computer server is recommended.

Operating System

RapidSMS is currently designed to run on Linux. (We generally recommend using Ubuntu or Fedora). A packaged version of RapidSMS for Windows and a preconfigured VM (virtual machine) version that will run on any standard operating system are currently in development.

GSM Modems or Compatible Phones

GSM modems are recommended for larger scale deployments of RapidSMS. RapidSMS also supports a number of standard cell phone models. Both work with any locally available SIM chip.

Most existing deployments of RapidSMS have used the MultiTech MTCBA-G-F4 (serial version) GRPS modem which is available from ModemExpress.com for under $200 dollars. Be sure to ask for the kit version which includes a power adapter. If your computer does not have a serial adapter you will also need a serial RS-232 to USB adapter.

It is possible and sometimes preferable to install multiple phones or modems for each instance of RapidSMS. This is handy when you want to provide SMS numbers from multiple operators.

In some use-cases, it could be critical that an organization, other than the end user, takes responsibility for billing arrangements (prepaid, post-post or toll-free). This should be arranged in advance with mobile phone companies. Additionally, short code numbers (eg dial HEALTH) are often obtainable and many mobile providers will be willing to offer discounted or free services if a compelling corporate social responsibility or marketing approach is offered.

Power and Security

For all deployments, a secure and dry location for the computer with a reliable source of energy is important. UPS and voltage regulators are highly recommended. Please note that since RapidSMS is accessible anywhere there is cell coverage, the RapidSMS server does NOT have to be at the location of the deployment. Many times, organizations will chose to install it at their country office where good security, power and connectivity is assured.

Cell phone and Internet Access

Good cell phone coverage for the GPRS Modem or phone connected to RapidSMS is required. Internet access is not required unless you wish to make the RapidSMS dashboard accessible via the internet. In this case, it will be helpful to have a reliable internet connection with a public IP address.


  When deploying RapidSMS on a standard computer without a RAID drive, it is highly recommended to routinely backup the RapidSMS database on an external hardrive or flash drive. For server deployments, RAID drives are highly recommended with an additional backup to an external drive or usb key.