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SMS Service

SMS and phone icon

SMS Introduction

The SMS service allows users around the university to send texts to small or large numbers of people.

Examples of use cases are:

  • Course or class notifications/changes
  • Alerts from alarm monitoring systems
  • Disaster/emergency planning
  • General message to staff off campus
  • Trials
  • Any situation where a short notification helps


There are two types of accounts, administrator and user. 

All administrators and users should have their own sign in credentials and should not share these with other people.

Administrator Accounts

These are used to set up users, delete, and modify users.  They are also able to set up global contacts and global templates that can be used by any user in the department.

       Administrator accounts cannot send messages, it is only used for the administration of the service.  As an administrator, please follow these guidelines:

  • Administrative accounts need to contain information that leads back to a person, we require this for billing purposes.
  • Update/delete user accounts as necessary in the USER section - if someone has left the university, please remove the account.
  • If you wish to have a generic account, could you add all the full details of the people using it in the notes/ comments section of the user account.  Please list the user's name, sso, university email address and university phone number.

Please do not remove your cost code from the department name on the account, this is vital for billing purposes.

User Accounts

  • These are used to send out messages. 
  • Users can set up / delete personal contacts and use global contacts
  • A user account is not required to receive messages

SMS Portal

The SMS portal is where administrators can log in to manage user accounts, and users can log in to send messages, create contacts, etc.

Browse to and sign in with your either your administrator (to administer users) or user credentials (to send messages) - administrators and users use the same login link but have separate credentials depending on the account type.

SMS login portal screen

Department administrator portal view

Administrators can edit their own details under the 'DEPARTMENT ADMINS' tab or add and edit users under the 'USERS' tab:

Department admin portal view


department admin edit user

Note that in the above case the administrator also has a user account, so the Username for the administrator account has 'admin' added to distinguish between the two accounts.

User portal view

Users can view their details on the users tab, and edit their password on the 'MY PROFILE' tab 

The user portal is for sending messages.  Please see the section sending messages via the portal.

user portal view

Messages can also be sent by users using email.  Please see the section sending messages using email

Set up of User and Administrator record conventions

On request of an account, the Chorus team will set up a department record, one administrator account, and one user account

Subsequent user accounts are added and managed by the administrator.  

In order to keep the records consistent across the university/SMS system, please follow these conventions for the user:

The user account:

  • Username: SSO username, e.g. ouit0423
  • Email: university email in most cases. 

If an email to SMS is to be sent from a non-university email address e.g. a Gmail account then the Gmail address can be entered here; this is required in order to log messages in the MESSAGES tab sent from a non-university email.

  • Phone number: a university extension

SMS add new user details

The administrator account conventions:

  • The username will be: SSO username with admin added, e.g. ouit0423admin  (this is also because some administrators also want to be users to send texts)
  • Email: university email
  • Phone Number: a university extension

SMS add new admin details

Alpha tag

When a department is set up, an Alpha tag is set - this is a mandatory field.  This is an identifier of where the text is coming from.

For example, if the Alpha tag is set to 'STUDY', then the recipients will show the text as being received from 'STUDY', i.e. an alias, not a number

The alpha tag can be a maximum of 11 characters. Special characters are not allowed except space and hyphen. The first character cannot be a number.

Units who are just set up for sending texts will always have texts sent with the alpha tag.  No replies can be made to these texts.

If units are also set up to receive inbound messages, the alpha tag is not used when the inbound option is active -  please see inbound messages for further detail. 

Sending messages using the portal

Log in as a user and click on the 'MESSAGES' tab.

  • Here you can select templates or create a new message.
  • Select to send to individual contacts under the Quick Contacts Selection or select a Group.
  • Use a CSV file to import numbers
  • You can also set your message to send out at a specific time in advance or instantly.
  • Click 'Send' to send the message.
  • Please note that in this example the user account is set up only to send messages, so there is only an option to send with the alpha tag

Send messages from portal

Importing numbers using a CSV file

There are several ways to send messages to multiple contacts including using the contacts list or sending messages using email.

Another option is to import the numbers via a CSV file:

1. Create an Excel file with the recipient numbers listed in a column.  The format of the cells can remain as 'general'.

It does not matter that the initial 0 is missing from the number.  The numbers are redacted below but if the number was 07980781111 it would show as 7980781111

SMS create CSV to import contacts

2. Then save this as a .csv  file:

chorus sms save extensions as csv to import

3. Under the User MESSAGES tab, click on 'Upload CSV/Excel'

SMS upload CSV

4. Click on 'Choose file':

SMS choose CSV file

5. And browse to the .csv file:

SMS browse to CSV file

6. Click on 'Upload':

SMS upload CSV file

7. Click on 'Submit'

 SMS submit CSV file

A message will display how many numbers have been imported:

SMS how many imported

8. If required, these can be checked by clicking on the newly appeared link showing the number of mobile numbers imported. 

Note that the numbers now display in the correct format +447xxxxxxxx

SMS view imported link


SMS imported number format

9. Type the message in the 'Message to send' box and click 'Send'

SMS send messages using imported numbers

10. A confirmation message should display:

SMS messages sent confirmation

Sending messages using email

You can send messages via email, if the option to relay of email to SMS is enabled (via the portal).

Send messages via email

  • In the To field - put your contacts phone number in the format (mobilenumber)
  • The message is restricted to the subject line only - anything put in other fields will not be sent.
  • Click 'Send' to send the message

Relay of email to SMS

  • In order to send messages using email the 'Allow relay of Email to SMS' radio button must be set to 'Yes'
  • A valid email that the SMS is being sent from is also required
  • This is the case for each user that requires this functionality
  • Messages sent by email will show under the MESSAGES tab under the ADMIN account

check allow relay of email to SMS

Sending to multiple numbers

In order to send to multiple numbers, separate the numbers by a semi-colon:

SMS send to multiple numbers


Inbound messages using keywords

The Chorus team can set up this functionality - please be aware that there is a cost.

A recipient is asked to text OXFORD and a KEYWORD to 81025, and any text coming in with that keyword can be sent to a particular email address, the online portal or mobile number.

In addition, a text can be sent out automatically in reply.

Once set up, the administrator account will have an additional entry on the INBOUND KEYWORDS tab.

In this case the keyword is 'CHORUS':

SMS edit inbound options

Clicking on the edit button will allow the selection of how the inbound message is handled:

SMS choose inbound handling options


The sending format of inbound messages

The sender should type the message format: OXFORD CHORUS their message

For example, to send the message "this is an example message" the sender should type in the message body:

OXFORD CHORUS this is an example message and then send to the number 81025


Inbound messages as replys

The Chorus team can set up this functionality - please be aware that there is a cost.

When a User account has been enabled to receive inbound messages as well as send, there will be two visible options in the 'MESSAGES' tab to send with:

Send with Alpha tag or Virtual Mobile phone number

  • In the case of wanting to receive inbound messages from the sent message, select 'Send with Virtual Mobile phone number' (this is a system bridging number provided by the supplier)
  • Enter the message
  • Enter the mobile number to send to (redacted on below image as it's a real number)
  • Click send

SMS send with virtual number

Logging onto the Administrator portal view, and clicking on the MESSAGES tab, the administrator can view any messages sent:

Example message using virtual number

If the recipient replys to the message, this will show on the 2WAY tab (see next section) which is only available on the User portal view.

2WAY messages

The 2WAY tab is only available on the User portal view and is used for managing inbound messages as replys

This shows an inbound message sent as reply to a message which was sent via the portal.

chorus sms 2way tab

The user can manage the destination of where the replies to inbound messages are sent (and manage responses) by:

1. Click on 'Edit Virtual Number'

Chorus sms edit virtual number

2. Click on the pencil icon to edit:

Chorus sms 2way edit options

  • Note that in this case that only Username has the option checked, so replies in this case will only go to the MESSAGES tab
  • Also note that the 'Reply number' is a virtual (system) number, which is unique to each user using the inbound messages function.

Chorus sms 2way settings

3. Selecting 'Email' and/or 'Mobile number' checkboxes and/or 'Allow auto response for this number' option will show further input boxes in order to manage how inbound messages are received.

Chorus sms submit 2way oprtions

4. Click submit.


There are two types of contacts, global and personal

  • Global contacts are set up by department administrators for all of the users in the department.
  • Personal contacts are set up by each user and only accessible to them.   

Here is an example of user only contacts, under the 'CONTACTS' tab. 

Once set up, contacts can be edited or deleted and may be used when sending messages via the portal

Contacts portal view

Importing and using Global Contacts

To import and use Global Contacts on each user, the contacts must be set up on the Administrator account

Steps to do this:

1. Create a .csv file with Mobile, FirstName, LastName as fields, and any optional groups (explained later)

If the mobile number omits the leading 0, this will not matter.  Save the .csv to the desktop

2. Select CONTACTS tab, leave the settings as they are below, and upload the .csv

3. 'Select Mapping' on the first 3 columns, leave any additional group columns at this point, and click 'submit'

4. Next select any groups, then click 'submit'


5. Click submit to confirm entries and override duplicates, if required


6. Then on the User portal on the MESSAGES tab:

 - Select Quick Contacts, and Global

 - Click on the check boxes to select contacts to use.  


If there are a lot of contacts just select the first one, select 'Global Address Book' and click on the 'x Global contacts(s) selected' link

This will allow the 'Select all' check box to be selected (then click on 'Return to Send Messages')

7.  If required, any Global Groups created can be selected in a similar way:



For the financial year 2019/20, any new accounts will have a standard minimum charge of £10.

Existing accounts have already been charged for this financial year (2019/2020) based on their expected usage. Any accounts that significantly exceed their annual charge may accrue additional charges at the end of the financial year.

Charges for accounts renewing for the next financial year (2020/2021) will be estimated based on their usage during this year. As a guideline to how estimated costs are calculated, texts are charged at 3.5p per text to each recipient, e.g. 2 texts sent to 10 recipients is 20 texts at 3.5p.

In addition, if you are also using inbound messages using keywords or Inbound messages as replys these costs will be factored into the estimation:

  • Inbound messages using keywords: £5 per month
  • Inbound messages as replys: £10 per month per user (for the virtual number)

Requesting an account and password resets

If you wish to request an account, please complete a Service Request for an SMS account

For user password setting, please edit via the 'MY PROFILE' tab.

For administrator password setting - this can be done logging into the portal as an administrator; or for please email the chorus team if you need to reset the SMS administrator password

Canceling an account

There is a minimum £10 charge for users of the service for 2019 - 2020 who did not cancel during or at the end of the financial year August 2018 - July 2019. 

If this service is no longer required, please email chorus to cancel the SMS service, and your unit will not be charged for 2020 - 2021


Please see the SMS FAQ

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 6 March 2020