The AT&T shared short code ban: Next steps for the A2P industry

OpenMarket – October 8, 2020

The impact of AT&T’s announced plans to prohibit the use of shared short codes rocked the A2P SMS industry in 2018. Businesses that relied on shared codes – whether they were small retailers or SMS resellers – were left with some big decisions to make.

This blog post was published in 2018, and updated on May 31, 2021. 

There’s been a lot of information to navigate following the announcement. And 10DLC has arrived on the scene too. All the major carriers are now live with their 10DLC offerings. OpenMarket has agreements in place with them all. And we have a 10DLC self-service tool called Numbers. It’s a one-stop shop for businesses that want to start sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages on 10DLC.

Shared short codes are still in use, but their future looks uncertain. Here’s what we know so far:

In October 2018, AT&T told A2P partners it will stop activating any new shared short codes with immediate effect – adding that it will stop supporting existing shared short code campaigns some time in the future. In fact, both AT&T and T-Mobile now prohibit shared short codes in their updated codes of conduct. However, brands do have a period of grace in which they can move their traffic to approved numbers like dedicated short codes or 10DLC (ten-digit long codes). More on that grace period below.

Many of you are likely asking, will there be an exception for same-vertical shared codes? The answer to this is that there will be very few exceptions, and they are on a case by case basis with an in-depth carrier review before approval.

What is 10DLC ?

Unlike P2P US long codes – which have been used by many businesses over the years despite not being approved for business use – 10DLC is a legitimate, sanctioned number for MMS and SMS.

We have agreements in place with all the major carriers. And you can use our self-service 10DLC tool to manage everything and start sending and receiving messages via 10DLC.

For tips on what to do next, we’ve created some 10DLC tip sheets. If you’re a US enterprise that uses mobile messaging, click here for your tip sheet. If you’re an SMS reseller click here.

Alternatively, for background on the right type of number to use for business messaging, you can check out our guide on short codes and 10DLC.

A dilemma for businesses

Companies that use shared short codes will need to weigh up the costs and processes of moving to a dedicated short code. Smaller companies may struggle with that cost, in which case the new A2P 10DLC might be their only option.

10DLC offers reliable deliverability with a much higher throughput than old long codes. At the moment, P2P US long code messages can be delivered at a speed of approximately one a second – which is inadequate for big campaigns.

You can expect 10DLC speeds of several dozens TPS (transactions per second). For information on how to secure the TPS your business needs, check out our Get ready for 10DLC post.

What this means for the wider industry

The restrictions on the use of shared short codes, and the emergence of 10DLC, serves to highlight the fact that the mobile messaging industry is in continual flux, with many more adaptations to come in the future.

What’s next?

Soon carriers will enforce a migration of traffic from shared short codes and long codes designed for person-to-person use.

We will keep you informed of 10DLC developments on our blog. If you’re a customer or partner, get in touch with your account manager whenever you need help or advice. The AT&T and T-Mobile Codes of Conduct and guidance is available on our Docs and Resources site under US and Canadian Industry Guidelines.

And check out our 10DLC and short code solutions page. If you’re making a change from shared short codes and P2P long codes, you’ll discover how straightforward it can be.

 

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