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 October 8, 2020. 

There’s been a lot of information to navigate following the announcement. 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 will be a legitimate, sanctioned SMS number.

The carriers are slowly but surely going live with their 10DLC offerings. The next step will be to ask brands to move their shared short code and P2P long code traffic.

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 you can check out our guide on short codes and 10DLC.

Short codes, and moving to 10DLC (ten digit long codes)

We don’t know yet what AT&T and T-Mobile’s deadlines are for migrating brands to dedicated originators. T-Mobile has said it will not be before March 1st, 2021.

Verizon already accepts A2P messages sourced from a 10DLC on their US network. AT&T and T-Mobile are now soft-launched and going through the contract process. Sprint – now owned by T-Mobile – is following soon.

T-Mobile is calling this a soft launch because they are not charging messaging fees until March 1st, 2021. Having no passthrough fees for this grace period is intended to incentivize moving off of shared short codes and grey route long codes. AT&T will also not be charging messaging fees during their soft launch, but the date they will begin to charge is yet to be determined.

We are in conversations with the tier two and three carrier hubs around when they will support 10DLC, more to come on that in the near future.

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 will eventually offer 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 around 30 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?

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’s 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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