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CTIA’s updated messaging guidelines and best practices: 4 things you need to know

Caroline Sutton Caroline Sutton
Caroline Sutton
Image for the CTIA Guidelines

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The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) has updated their Messaging Best Practices and Guidelines for the first time since January 2017—and its changes may affect your business’ text messaging success. 

But first…who’s the CTIA?

The CTIA is a telecom industry organization comprised of representatives from major telecom companies such as wireless carriers, VoIP operators, and CPaaS companies like Bandwidth. Together, the CTIA agrees on best practices that set the tone and expected behavior throughout the communications industry. The group meets regularly, but updates like these are major and only occur once every few years. 

Who’s affected by the CTIA Guidelines update?

If your business is sending messages of any kind, these new guidelines may affect your message deliverability. The changes are especially pertinent to those sending messages on local numbers that are not approved for new 10DLC carrier routes.

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What changed in the July 2019 CTIA Messaging Guidelines update? 

In this update, the CTIA zeroed in on the differences between A2P (application-to-person) and P2P (person-to-person) messaging traffic, expectations around consumer consent, and business responsibilities on eliminating spam and unwanted messages in general. Here’s a full guide to what’s changed since the last update: 

  • Toll-free and local numbers now acknowledged as accepted A2P messaging channels: New in this edition were acknowledgments of appropriate messaging channels for high-volume, A2P traffic. The CTIA officially acknowledged short codes, toll-free numbers, and local numbers run on 10DLC routes (such as Bandwidth’s Local A2P API) as appropriate for A2P Messaging traffic. 
  • Non-acceptable A2P routes further defined: In addition to defining “acceptable” A2P messaging routes, the CTIA Guidelines also clarified which routes are not appropriate for A2P messaging. These routes included “snowshoeing” messaging traffic or using a pool of local numbers to distribute traffic around volumetric filters. These practices will be subject to further scrutiny. 
  • New clarifications on P2P traffic: An updated traffic guideline was included that more granularly defines P2P traffic vs. A2P traffic. Now, for a use case to be considered P2P it would need to meet the following guidelines:
    • Throughput of no more than 15-60 messages per minute
    • Volume of no greater than 1,000 messages per day
    • Unique Sender with only one telephone number assigned to or utilized by a single Consumer—a new condition with this update
    • Unique Recipients with no more than 100 distinct recipients/telephone numbers per message—a reduction from 200 in the 2017 guideline.
    • Balance of roughly a 1:1 ratio of outgoing messages to incoming messages per telephone number 
    • Repetition of 25 or more substantially repetitive messages is a new condition that would flag messages as A2P rather than P2P
  • Opt-in requirements defined and expanded per use case: Consumer consent was included and expanded upon in this edition of the CTIA Guidelines. Message senders are expected to always obtain a consumer’s consent to receive messages, and should offer express written consent for marketing messages specifically as well as the ability to revoke consent at any point. Guidelines were also expanded to include best practices around specific use cases, such as:
    • Conversational messaging such as a website chatbox, or support inquiry message may be initiated by the consumer. If the conversation is consumer-initiated, implied consent is received and no additional permission is expected. 
    • Informational messaging occurs when a consumer gives their phone number to a business and asks to be contacted with appointment reminders, alerts, and other business notifications. In this example, a consumer must give express consent, agreeing to receive texts from the business over text, on a form, on a website, or verbally. 
    • Promotional messaging includes any text that may be promoting or marketing a business in any way. Consumers should give express written permission before a business sends a text message via a signed form, a checked box on a website, or other form of written permission that may be tracked and managed. 

Want more information? You’re in luck!

It’s not everyday the CTIA releases updated guidelines and best practices. Have questions? Get in touch and let our messaging experts answer them for you.

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