What is A2P 10DLC?

A Q&A with everything you need to know about US A2P 10DLC (10 Digit Long Code) for A2P (Application-to-Person) SMS and shared US short codes.

OpenMarket – January 17, 2020

The major US carriers are set to nationally launch the long-awaited, carrier-supported A2P 10DLC originators.

The demands on the US carriers’ networks and resources caused by COVID-19 looks to have pushed timetables back for all of them. However, it would seem reasonable to expect that all of the big US carriers will have launched their 10DLC services by the end of 2020.

(This  blog post was updated on April 13 2020.) 

This will be a landmark change for the A2P SMS messaging industry. Every US business that has relied on shared US short codes and long codes to communicate with their audiences could be affected.

So here’s an update – including everything we’re able to share – based on our ongoing conversations with all the major US carriers.

We’ll discuss what A2P 10DLC is, where it sits in the market, why people should care about it, and what they should do next.

There’s a lot of information to navigate. But the OpenMarket team can help businesses find new ways to pivot and thrive in this changing SMS environment.

What is A2P 10DLC?

A2P 10DLC has been specially designed and sanctioned for business messaging. It offers simplicity, stability, delivery reliability, and security to businesses and their audiences.  It will also support the volume messaging throughput that almost any business use case might require.

The US long codes widely used by businesses in previous years were only ever designed for person-to-person (P2P) communications. They have low volume throughput and lack desirable security standards. Carriers have always considered them to be an unsanctioned SMS route. For this reason, they were subject to blocking and throttling.

Are US shared short codes being banned?

There’s been a lot of talk in the industry about the prospect of carriers banning shared short codes following the A2P 10 DLC launch.

To carriers, shared short codes represent a high spam risk. The fact that many businesses share use of the same short code makes them difficult to police.

But an outright ban seems unlikely. We believe shared short codes legitimately used by parent companies for individual businesses (like a chain of restaurants) could be exempt, but this would be at the discretion of the carriers. If you’re unsure, we can help. Let us know  about the use cases you have running on your shared short codes and we can advise if they could be considered for exemption.

In October, AT&T listed specific use cases it will clear for shared short codes:

  • Emergency notifications
  • 2FA / OTP
  • Transit alerts
  • Job postings (if the message sender is doing the hiring)
  • Charities

Remember, other carriers may have longer or shorter lists.

Will I need a dedicated US short code?

Moving to a dedicated short code will be one option for businesses that find themselves unable to use shared short codes any more. The monthly costs are higher, but dedicated short codes enjoy higher carrier support, and higher potential throughput for campaigns.

Another option for companies will be to move to A2P 10DLC. These numbers will have lower monthly costs, be sanctioned by the carrier networks, and will be much faster to provision. (If you use OpenMarket’s automated self-serve platform, getting set up with a 10DLC could take seconds).

The key dates

Verizon has gone live with A2P 10DLC on their network, with the other Tier 1 US carriers, (AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint), preparing their commercial launches. We can help you set up 10 DLC traffic on Verizon.

The only carrier to announce their rate card for this new originator is Verizon. All other carriers are currently reviewing the market to assess what their rates may be. When we have officially been informed, we will let our customers know.

If you have any questions or need advice on getting started, just get in touch here.

What is A2P 10DLC vetting?

It’s important to note all the Tier-1 carriers have a vested interest in keeping this route spam free and thereby reducing consumer harm. Verizon plans to achieve this using spam and smashing filters.

The other carriers might end up vetting businesses before allowing them to send traffic on A2P 10DLC.

A third party could be used by the carriers to assess the risk each business poses, then assign a risk score. Big brands with a good reputation will probably be assumed to pose a very low risk to the messaging ecosystem.

An example of an SMS use case likely to score a low risk would be one that uses A2P 10DLC to send and receive SMS-based two-factor authorization (2FA). That’s because consumers have asked for this traffic, they respond to it, and it’s safe and necessary.

On the other end of the scale would be promotional marketing campaigns by third party affiliates. That’s because there’s a potential for these campaigns to be sent to consumers who may not have been opted into the campaign correctly.

The score you receive could dictate the volume and throughput of messages each carrier allows you to send through their respective networks.

Check out our blog post, What are 10DLC trust scores? to find out more. But the big takeaway is: if your campaigns are not in anyway spam-like, and your customers want to receive your messages and have been opted in correctly, you’re probably going to be alright.

Does 10DLC support voice?

A2P 10DLC numbers support voice too, which means you can send and receive SMS messages on the same local number people already call you on. A single number for voice and messaging means a more cohesive brand experience.

Text-enabled toll-free numbers

The other messaging option available for businesses is to communicate with customers via a text-enabled toll-free number.

This is a service that allows businesses to “text enable” existing toll-free phone numbers, so they have one number customers can either text or call them on.

It’s important to note, that although “toll free” numbers are free for a consumer to call (i.e. the business pays the consumer cost), it is not free to text a “text-enabled toll-free number”. The consumer would have an SMS standard fee deducted from either the limited or unlimited text plan they have with their respective carrier.

These TETF numbers have a high throughput (though not quite as high as short codes) and are secure and approved for business use.

Like 10DLC, they are another messaging option for businesses that want to start messaging quickly and easily without the higher cost sometimes associated with short codes.

A market in flux

At OpenMarket, we’re here to help our customers and partners pivot and move forward as changes in the market take effect.

We provide the tools, solutions, strategic advice and network access you need, while leveraging our close relationships with all the major US carriers to represent your interests.

We’re also here to help smooth out any migrations from shared short codes. As the US’s biggest short code provider, a global market leader in long codes, and one of the largest mobile messaging providers in the world, we know we have a big role to play here.

We’re holding regular talks with carriers about this situation and will keep you informed of developments.

If you need any help or advice, just drop us a line here. Or if you’re an existing customer or partner get in touch with your account manager any time.

We’re always here to help.

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