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The easiest way to interface to the GSM network is to use a GSM modem. There are three on the market Wavecom, Connexant and Sony/Ericson. These devices offer a serial interface that uses modem like commands to set them up. You will have to interface to the serial port as well as to a SIM card. This will be the easiest way. Do a search on GSM modems and you will get many links.
working with GSM for process control is as simple as ABC to be frank. Most modern mobile phones have serial port connection points. as far as you can get hold of the serial cable for the mobile phone. They accept standard AT commands for modems with variations from one mobile phone manufacturer to the next. transmitting these commands can be easily handled by suitable MCU. Buying a full blown GSM modem can be a bit of an overkill if you have any of your old mobile handset somewhere around the house.