Messaging in North America: 10DLC, Toll-Free Numbers, and Short Codes

As text messaging continues to be a popular communication channel, businesses and organizations in North America must comply with specific requirements when engaging in application-to-person (A2P) text messaging campaigns.

These requirements aim to ensure consumer protection, prevent spam, and maintain the integrity of the SMS ecosystem. In this article, we will explore the three primary options available for A2P messaging: 10DLC, toll-free numbers, and short codes, and delve into the specific requirements associated with each.

10DLC (10 Digit Long Code)

10DLC refers to a dedicated 10-digit phone number that is specifically designed for A2P messaging. It provides a more affordable alternative to short codes and is widely used by businesses and organizations for customer engagement. However, it is essential to meet specific guidelines and requirements to use 10DLC effectively.

  • Brand Registration: Businesses must register their brand and obtain a Trust Score with the wireless carriers. This registration process involves providing information about the company, its intended messaging usage, and adhering to specific industry and carrier guidelines.
  • Campaign Registration: Each A2P campaign conducted using a 10DLC number needs to be registered with the wireless carriers. The registration typically involves providing details about the messaging content, expected volume, and campaign duration.
  • Opt-in and Opt-out: Businesses must implement a clear opt-in process to ensure that customers explicitly consent to receive text messages. Additionally, they must provide an opt-out mechanism, allowing recipients to unsubscribe easily.
  • Compliance: Compliance with carrier guidelines, including message content restrictions, frequency caps, and compliance with industry regulations such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), is essential.

Toll-Free Numbers

Toll-free numbers have long been associated with voice communication, but they can also be used for A2P messaging. While toll-free numbers offer certain advantages, such as being easier to remember, their use for SMS campaigns involves specific requirements.

  • Text-Enabled Toll-Free Numbers: Businesses need to ensure their toll-free numbers are text-enabled, meaning they have the capability to send and receive text messages.
  • Opt-in and Opt-out: Similar to 10DLC, businesses must obtain explicit opt-in consent from customers before sending SMS messages and provide an opt-out mechanism to allow recipients to unsubscribe easily.
  • Compliance: Compliance with industry regulations and carrier guidelines, including content restrictions and frequency limits, is crucial.

Short Codes

Short codes are typically five or six-digit numbers designed solely for A2P messaging. They offer several benefits, including high throughput, carrier-level support, and improved deliverability rates. However, obtaining and utilizing short codes involves more rigorous requirements and higher costs.

  • Short Code Provisioning: Obtaining a short code requires engaging with a Short Code Registry Provider (SCRP) or Common Short Code Administration (CSCA). The process involves completing applications, paying fees, and adhering to carrier-specific guidelines.
  • Compliance: Strict adherence to carrier guidelines, industry regulations, and compliance with the TCPA and the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) guidelines is mandatory.
  • Opt-in and Opt-out: Similar to other A2P messaging options, businesses must obtain opt-in consent from customers and provide an easy opt-out mechanism.

When engaging in A2P text messaging campaigns in North America, businesses have three primary options: 10DLC, toll-free numbers, and short codes. Each option comes with its own set of requirements that ensure consumer protection, prevent spam, and maintain the integrity of the SMS ecosystem. It is crucial for businesses to understand and comply with these.