What is a USSD Code?

What is a USSD Code

You may be asking yourself, what is a USSD code?

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) sounds very technical, but for most purposes is simply a number that starts with * and ends with #. These are often poorly publicised by mobile network operators, but can be very useful

By dialling these short codes you prompt your phone to communicate with the network provider and reveal some information. E.g. an IMEI number, phone number, or your balance. They can also be used for online banking operations.

Unlike MMI codes, which are built in by the manufacturer, USSD codes are unique to each network provider. They create a real-time connection with the network for quick exchange of data. They also do not require a fast connection, 2G is enough, which makes it more convenient and quicker than SMS services.

Making use of a USSD code is usually free, to use them simply:

  1. Dial in the USSD code, for example *111*# and press call.
  2. The phone will display a menu showing USSD Code running, and then display the data requested, or an error message if you have put the wrong code in.

As they are free, very quick, and can work even on 2G,  we recommend using USSD codes to monitor your data, text, and minute usage abroad.

MMI Codes

MMI (Man Machine Interface) codes are used to obtain information from your phone. They generally begin with an asterisk (*) and end with a hash (#). Unlike USSD codes, MMI codes are inbuilt into every GSM device all over the world, and cannot be altered by your network provider.

MMI codes are a universal way of performing useful functions like, for example, revealing the devices IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) code (*#06#)  or resetting the device (*#7780#). Unlike USSD codes, they are not sent to the network, and therefore you don’t have to press send or dial at the end.

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