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How to get a short code

George Perry George Perry
George Perry
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Image for a blog on acquiring or migrating a short code

Short codes are a great way for your business to send coupons, promotions, and offers over SMS to consumers that have opted-in. But, whether you’re acquiring a new short code or migrating an existing code to Bandwidth, there are a few steps you need to take before you can start sending texts.

We’ll start with those looking to acquire a new short code, so if you’re looking to migrate your existing short code, jump on down the page.

Acquiring a new short code

Cards on the table—acquiring a new short code will take longer than migrating an existing one. That being said, most of the steps are the same.

Phase 1: Engage

Your first decision is whether you’ll be acquiring a random short code, one randomly assigned by the Short Code Registry system, or a select short code (also called a “vanity” short code), a string of numbers you choose yourself based on availability.

Next, you’ll need to decide if you prefer a 6-month or 12-month lease duration for your short code. Once that’s decided, you’ll need to fill out the Campaign Brief. This will include information about your company, a point of contact, and information about how you’ll be using the short code.

Finally you’ll need to complete a short code agreement to enter into a contractual agreement with Bandwidth for a short code.

During the “Engage” phase, Bandwidth will be doing a preliminary review of your Campaign Brief to make sure we’re confident in your chances of success during the carrier approval process and, once the contract is signed, we’ll obtain a short code from the U.S. Short Code Registry for you.

Now that your short code has been acquired, it’s time to set it up.

Phase 2: Setup

Once your short code has been leased, you’ll need to perform API or SMPP integrations with Bandwidth to ensure that your application can successfully send and receive messages. Integrations must include configuration of all keyword responses (HELP, STOP, etc) per the short code guidelines.

In addition to integrating with our APIs, there may be additional development work that needs to be done in order to appropriately test the messaging flow. Full integration and traffic flow testing must be completed prior to carrier testing in order to obtain approval

During setup, a Bandwidth Campaign Specialist will collaborate with you to finalize your Campaign Brief and make sure everything is in order for carrier review.

Phase 3: Activate

Bandwidth will submit your Campaign Brief to the carriers for review and approval. Each carrier will conduct a review and will test to ensure that your campaign is in compliance with CTIA Short Code guidelines. If any questions or technical issues arise you’ll need to be available to answer those questions or triage the testing issues, but otherwise this phase is largely driven by the carriers and Bandwidth.

As you get approval from each of the carriers, your campaign messages are able to be sent on each of their networks.

Phase 4: Go live!

Once testing has been completed we’ll provide you with a notification certifying your campaign, which means you can launch your service and run live traffic. Even after approval and your campaign going live, you will still need to monitor your traffic to make sure that you’re staying compliant with carrier requirements.

There’s a few other things you should note, but unless you also want to read about migrating your existing short code, you can jump down to that section.

Migrating an existing short code

If you already have a short code and just want to move it to another provider the process is a little simpler, though it still involves a bit of work. You’ll go through the same basic steps as someone acquiring a new short code, but it will often take less time. Why? Because your campaign information is already gathered and your keywords are set up (translated: less work for you).

Phase 1: Engage

To migrate your existing short code you’ll need to provide us with a Letter of Migration that states you’re authorizing the migration of your short code to Bandwidth and your current CSCA Lease Receipt.

In addition to those two documents, you’ll also need to fill out a Campaign Brief and complete a short code agreement with Bandwidth. This is where prior campaign experience comes in handy—reuse the campaign info you’ve already gotten approved, unless your campaign purpose or intent has changed since then.

Phase 2: Setup

During Setup you’ll perform API (or SMPP) integration with Bandwidth to ensure that your application can successfully send and receive messages over the short code. During integration you also must configure all of the keyword responses (STOP, HELP, etc). In addition to integrating with our APIs, there may be additional development work that needs to be done in order to appropriately test the messaging flow. 

Full integration and traffic flow testing must be completed prior to carrier testing in order to obtain approval

A Bandwidth Campaign Specialist will collaborate with you throughout the setup phase to finalize your Campaign Brief and make sure everything is in order for carrier review.

Phase 3: Activate

Bandwidth will submit your Campaign Brief to each of the carriers for review and approval. Even with a migration, each carrier will review your Campaign Brief and test to ensure compliance with CTIA Short Code guidelines. If the carriers have any questions, or any technical concerns that need to be addressed, you’ll be asked to step in, but otherwise Bandwidth and the carriers will largely drive this phase of the process.

To mitigate any downtime or traffic interruption, a Bandwidth Campaign Specialist will help you plan a migration strategy. As you get approval from each of the carriers, your campaign messages will be able to be sent via Bandwidth over each of their networks. Once we have a green light from each carrier, sending test traffic through Bandwidth’s network can immediately commence, allowing you to move forward with confidence.

It’s possible to receive approval and begin testing for one carrier while pending a status update from another.

Phase 4: Go live

Once testing is complete you’ll get a notification certifying your campaign, allowing you to launch your service and run live traffic. As with your previous provider, you’ll want to monitor your traffic to ensure you’re staying compliant with carrier requirements.

Things to keep in mind

Of all the things to keep in mind when you’re either acquiring or migrating a short, just remember that Bandwidth will continue to provide support on any questions, concerns, or events you encounter after the campaign is live.

That being said, there are a few other things to remember:

  • If you’re attempting to acquire a select short code, they are subject to the availability of your desired code, so having a backup is a good idea
  • Our internal review does not guarantee carrier approval of your campaign
  • We will continue to keep you updated on all mobile operator approvals through completion during the carrier review process
  • On average this process can take 6 to 8 weeks. If you’re acquiring a new short code it can take longer, if you’re migrating your existing short code it can take less time
  • Short code leases must be obtained before beginning the carrier approval process, and the full lease must be paid in full regardless of whether the campaign is approved by the carriers
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Send SMS over short code with Bandwidth

Whether you’re looking to acquire a new short code or want to migrate your current short code to Bandwidth, our team is ready to help you through every step of the process. Get in touch today to find out how to get started, and learn more about the benefits of getting (or migrating) your short code with Bandwidth.

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