Everything You Need to Know About 10 DLC, Commercial Long Codes, and Short Codes for SMS & Text Message Marketing

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There’s been a lot happening in the SMS / text marketing world over the last couple of years, especially on the customer side. Mobile messaging has exploded among people of all ages, and has become the number one way people want to receive communications, especially from businesses. There has been a major move away from telephone calls as we see their efficacy continue to decrease year by year. Businesses and organizations in all sectors switched to text messaging to convey vital information and advertise efficiently to their audiences.

We are seeing new innovative forms every day that businesses make use of Application to Person (A2P) messaging to communicate with customers. A2P is the industry term used to describe the programmatically transmitted text messages from computers to individuals. If you have ever received a marketing text or an SMS alert from a business or your doctor’s office, you’ve received an A2P text message. Although use cases have gradually expanded and developed, one aspect that doesn’t have is the messaging systems to support them. That changed in late 2019 when 10 Digit Long Code (10DLC) messaging was introduced.

What exactly is 10DLC?

10DLC are phone numbers are also known as “business long codes” and will become the new standard for many organizations of A2P text messaging. Although it can sound complex, it’s really a pretty simple concept. A 10DLC number is just a standard 10-digit telephone number that supports the high volume messaging throughput required for business use cases.

When the first version of 10-digit A2P messaging was released several years ago, it was planned specifically for very low throughput and 1-on-1 communication. As business text messaging and SMS marketing use cases have risen, so has the demand for such messaging services that couldn’t keep up. 10 DLC SMS is the next version of A2P text messaging intended to meet this specific need.

Why 10DLC?

There are many reasons why 10DLC SMS was developed by the messaging industry, but it really comes down to a few simple issues … messaging frequency, transparency, and new business opportunities. Let’s go deeper and explore every single one.

SMS Text Messaging Volume

There are actually only a few ways to send text messages to A2P. You may use either regular long codes which are simply a standard phone number with an area code, toll-free phone numbers (phone number preceded with 888, 800, 855, etc.), or short codes. Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers. Each has its pros and cons.

Short Codes

Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers, which enable incredibly high volume and high velocity messaging and are predominantly used for SMS marketing and mass text notifications. You can send millions of text messages per day with short codes, at rates of up to 500 per second. Of all three sending options, short codes are the most expensive, ranging from $850 to $1,500 a month for the number alone in addition to the costs per SMS being sent and received. The short codes are the only A2P messaging channel that supports the highest volume of text messages. Obtaining a dedicated short code requires an application process, a waiting period of a few weeks. It’s important to note that short codes can not be used to make or receive phone calls or faxes.

Toll-Free Long Codes

Toll-free long codes that allow text messages and phone calls are regular toll-free phone numbers and are a great option for companies who don’t have extreme volumes of text messages that need to be sent or who simply don’t have the budget for a dedicated short code. While short codes can send 500 messages per second, toll-free long codes can send 3-to-10 messages per second and support sending a few thousand texts a day. Txtra has the ability to assign several toll-free long codes to accounts that allow our customers to leverage multiple concurrently to speed up the sending process by splitting the volume across multiple numbers.

Local Long Codes

Local long codes are common, local telephone numbers with local area codes that are used in everyday calling. They can only send a message at a rate of 1 per second and only support sending a few hundred messages daily. Really they are meant only for 1 to 1, transactional messaging, and phone calls. Local long codes are not generally recommended for business texting. Txtra has the ability to assign several local long codes to accounts which allow our customers to leverage multiple concurrently to speed up the sending process by splitting the volume across multiple numbers.

So, after a fast analysis of the 3 options to send A2P messaging, it’s clear that there are multiple options for sending mass text messaging to support businesses of every size and with every budget.

What is 10DLC?

10DLC numbers are designed and sanctioned by the termination vendors for A2P SMS messaging.

A 10DLC number is essentially a local 10-digit phone number that can support high volumes of text messages. Many experts anticipate that 10DLC will become the new standard for business text messaging.

Here’s why.

Benefits of 10DLC

10DLC numbers give businesses the best of both worlds: mass text messaging support, with lower overhead costs. This is what you can expect from 10DLC.
Higher SMS message volumes. 10DLC numbers are capable of supporting SMS message volumes that are somewhere between the limits of short codes and toll-free long codes.

Currently, 10DLC messaging can send messages at a rate of 5 to 15 messages per second, and that number may go up in the future. So, a 10DLC number is much more capable for A2P text messaging than a local long code.

Lower costs. 10DLC numbers cost about the same as a local long code phone number. So, businesses that can’t afford a short code number or don’t send enough messages to justify paying for a short code have a cost-efficient alternative.

Additionally, businesses will be able to convert their existing landlines to 10DLC numbers. This means businesses can send more messages from their existing phone number, and won’t have to pay for an additional number to get 10DLC capabilities.

Better Deliverability

Because 10DLC numbers are sanctioned by the term vendors, messages sent on these numbers are more likely going to reach the recipient than with regular local long codes.

10 DLC numbers are intended to support a sending rate of medium to the high volume between toll-free numbers and short codes. Early talks with carriers and other industry leaders suggested that 10DLCs would be able to send about 100,000 text messages a month with a transmission rate of between 5 and 15 text messages a second. Additionally, their monthly costs are supposed to be on par with regular long codes.

With short codes being the only true way for mass text messages to be sent on a scale, how do businesses make affordable use of their power? Shared short codes are common, but ARE NOT a compliant way of sending messages and can actually harm your business’ reputation.
In certain cases, it can use a single number to thousands of texts. Although this has worked and continues to work for years, there is an underlying issue the carriers see with shared short codes. If someone sends spam or violates their rules, it is even harder to determine who is responsible. In order, to shut them down, they would shut down the entire short code which will destroy thousands of other innocent text programs that are likely to abide by the rules.

10DLCs SMS seeks to solve this particular problem because each company or entity will have its own dedicated number. These commercial long codes are the ideal solution to the number of messages and compliance problems, at only a few dollars a month and the opportunity to send large volumes of numbers.

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have come out specifically and said they intend to sunset shared short codes once 10DLC SMS is alive and working across all carrier networks. This was outlined in their new code of conduct document, but there was no official word about what the phase of “wind-down” would look like. There are no corresponding time frames, as well. AT&T was the leader in making these improvements for mutual short codes, as no other carriers proposed the same behavior. However, at some stage, it’s inevitable that the others will suit. If and when AT&T wants to sunset shared short codes, a “migration phase” will take place where users of shared codes can obtain their own dedicated short codes or switch to 10DLC numbers.

New Market Chances

The cellular carriers are making money at the company. Anyone working with any business intelligence in the mobile messaging space will see the gaping opportunity hole that exists between toll-free numbers and short codes. Companies ought to send out messages on a scale. They actually have very few choices. Opportunities for the company are as plain as day. What makes it even sweeter is that carriers make little money from long-term messaging with existing technology. On 10DLC SMS messaging they will make much better as the costs will be the same as the short codes. If widely accepted and in use, people would naturally move their messaging traffic to this new commercial A2P channel even with the tariff increase. More dollars in the carrier’s pockets would please shareholders.

10DLC Number Functions

Let’s take a closer look at what features and functionality we should hope to see with this new messaging platform now that we understand what 10 DLC is, why the messaging industry is trying to build it up, and the whole context.

Higher Distributed Messaging

We should expect to see a much higher messaging rate with the latest 10DLC numbers than we currently get on either local or toll-free long codes. Although we know it does not have the same functionality as short send rate codes, we do believe it will meet most business needs as far as mass text messaging is concerned.

Reduce Expenses

10DLC numbers, as mentioned earlier, should be fairly low in cost compared to short codes and run just a few dollars a month per number. However, this one is not yet chiseled in stone. As far as the cost per message is concerned, the regular long code messaging will be more costly but when sending with short codes it will be no more than the cost per message.

A Dedicated Line

The new 10DLC text messaging system provides the opportunity for people to have dedicated numbers. Again, because of their low cost that is pretty much so. However, for those who want tight control of what types of messages are sent for the amount they use, this will be a major plus. One poor apple is unlikely to spoil the set. In addition, businesses should be able to include their landlines as 10DLC numbers so that with their current numbers they can send and receive text messages.

Voice Enabled

In addition to the messaging feature, and unlike short codes, the latest 10DLC numbers are also verified to support voice. This will allow you to send and receive the same number of text messages that people would just pick up the phone and dial. This will help create a much more unified environment for customers who connect with their favorite companies and brands.

The Deployment 10DLC

So we know this new 10DLC messaging channel is not yet here but it’s just around the corner … so they say. One of the remaining unanswered questions is how the / launch rollout would work. As we saw in the early SMS years, it’s not going to be that successful if not all cellular carriers are ready to play ball. It was much less successful when text messaging was first introduced than it is today because you could only send messages to people using the same network. AT&T customers were also only able to contact other AT&T customers, and no one else. The same is true of messaging with 10DLC.

To be truly successful in their intent for commercial long codes, each carrier would need to have their own 10DLC product ready and running. There is still some time before that happens, from what we can say. As things stand, on February 1, 2020, Verizon tried to launch theirs.

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