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 – October 8, 2020

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have launched their 10DLC services. Sprint is hot on their heels. Soon, every major US carrier will be offering the long-awaited, carrier-supported A2P 10DLC originator. Soon, every major US carrier will be offering the long-awaited, carrier-supported A2P 10DLC originator.

This  blog post was originally published in 2018, then updated on October 8, 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.

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

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 of 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?

Following the launch of A2P 10DLC, carriers are demanding that traffic on shared codes is migrated to dedicated 10DLCs or short codes.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.

T-Mobile and AT&T now prohibit shared short codes in their updated codes of conduct. There will be very few exceptions – even for same vertical shared codes. Cases will be treated  on a case by case basis with an in-depth carrier review before approval.

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 the March 1st, 2021.

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. They are the clear choice for brands who message large audiences.

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 the self-serve tools on indigo, OpenMarket’s multi-channel messaging platform, getting set up with a 10DLC will be a breeze.

The key dates

Verizon has gone live with A2P 10DLC on their network. AT&T and T-Mobile have gone live with a ‘soft launch’, and Sprint should join the party by late October or November. T-Mobile has announced it will not charge messaging fees until March 1st, 2021.

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 achieves this using spam and smashing filters. It does not use vetting scores to assign throughput but instead allocates TPS in much the same way as it does for short codes. You can expect healthy TPS (transaction per second) rates of around

As part of the 10DLC campaign registration process, AT&T gives each campaign a “message class”. A certain amount of throughput is expected to be assigned to each class. If you need more throughput, you might be given the opportunity to go through a vetting process with a verified independent agency. A good trust score from them could lead to higher throughput.

T-Mobile (Sprint) allocates TPS at the brand level – as a daily limit. If you have more than one campaign running, your daily quota is split across those campaigns. There are two options when it comes to receiving your daily messaging quota.

The first method is through default vetting in two tiers. The high-performance is for public companies and requires a vetting score of 75 or higher. This will earn you a daily quota of 200,000 messages. The low-performance tier (with a vetting score of 0–24) will earn a daily quota of 2,000 messages.

There’s a third route. Any brand that doesn’t fit one of the above tiers, or that wants to improve their vetting score, will need to be third-party vetted. There are four buckets in this category for vetting scores:

0–24 vetting score receives a 2,000 daily messaging quota
25–49 vetting score receives a 10,000 daily messaging quota
50–74 vetting score receives a 40,000 daily messaging quota
75–100 vetting score receives a 200,000 daily messaging quota

How is 10DLC trustworthiness measured?

An example of an SMS use case likely to be deemed 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 any way spam-like, and your customers want to receive your messages and have been opted in correctly, you’re probably going to be alright.

How can OpenMarket help me with 10DLC?

With self-service tools – powered by the indigo multi-channel messaging platform. You’ll be able to view your entire inventory of originators (short codes, long codes, alphanumerics) – as well as provision and configure your 10DLC numbers.

You’ll also be able to manage 10DLC purchasing, brand and campaign registration, provisioning, optin/optout management, and more.

OpenMarket and the indigo platform will support 10DLC for all major US carriers when they go live.

Where do text-enabled toll-free numbers fit into the 10DLC story?

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.

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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