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Shared short codes are going away. Here’s how to find your alternative

Caroline Sutton Caroline Sutton
Caroline Sutton
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Consumer receiving text messages from two different businesses on the same shared short code

Change. It’s inevitable. It’s gonna come. It makes the world a better place. Everyone from Michael Jackson, to Sam Cooke, to Kelly Clarkson has sung about it. And just like so many other things in the world, the messaging industry is changing once again. This blog is part one of a multi-part series that will walk you through the many upcoming changes to the messaging industry.  So what’s changing, and why should you be concerned about using a shared short code? We’ll walk you through it.

What is a Shared Short Code and what are the problems with them?

A shared short code is a 5-6 digit number that is shared between multiple businesses. For multiple businesses to use a single short code, each business must have their own unique keywords to separate the traffic. In some cases multiple businesses can send users messages from the same short code for different purposes, making for a poor user experience and tough opt-in/opt-out management.

In contrast, a dedicated short code is a 5-6 digit number that is used exclusively by one business, meaning that they and only they control the use of that short code.  The second (and much bigger) problem with shared short codes happens when one business user of the short code violates content or messaging practices, the entire shared short code must be shut-down, frustrating the many users and businesses associated with that number.

What happens when Shared Short Codes go away?

The world of business messaging is changing as it makes way for the newly redefined A2P messaging landscape. This change starts at the carrier layer—and the change is starting now! As business messaging evolves, and new technology emerges, shared short codes are slowly beginning to sunset within the telecom industry.

Since each carrier has its own rules for what they will and won’t accept on their networks, businesses will discover that shared short code delivery rates will begin to fall gradually as each wireless carrier begins to block shared short code traffic on their networks over the coming few months.

Why is my shared short code going away?

The reason for this change is two-fold:

  1. Balancing protecting consumers with reliable deliverability: when wireless carriers detect SPAM from a message sender, the entire short code is blocked. If your business is sharing a short code with a bad actor, chances are that your traffic will be blocked as well.
  2. The industry is making way for 10DLC: ten digit long code messaging (abbreviated to 10DLC) will be a new sanctioned way to send A2P messages using local phone numbers, starting in 2019. This change simplifies messaging business models, and opens up new use cases that can be tied to a local phone number.
Migrating from Short Codes to Toll-Free SMS

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Migrating from Short Codes to Toll-Free SMS

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Business-friendly alternatives are available!

So what’s the best option for your business? Here are a few that you may consider:

  • Dedicated short codes
    You can lease your own dedicated 5-6 digit short code for high volume messaging, and have greater control over your business messaging destiny with an easy-to-remember short code that allows you to build brand awareness.
  • Toll-Free Messaging
    Did you know you can SMS-enable your business’ toll-free number? Better yet, high volume application-to-person (A2P) messaging is possible on toll-free numbers, with approvals. Use the same number you’re already relying on for your customer contact center or sales line.
  • Ten Digit Long Code (10DLC) Messaging
    This new type of A2P messaging allows businesses to use local numbers to send high volumes of text messages over approved local numbers, giving your business that local touch.

Here’s a quick chart to make these differences even easier to spot:

 Dedicated Short CodesToll-free MessagingTen Digit Long Code (10DLC) Messaging
Approved for A2P MessagingYESYESYES
Avg Monthly Number Hosting Fee$500-1,000~$1$0
Voice enabledNOYESYES
Approval time2-4 weeks1-3 business days3 business days
Delivery receipts available?YES – at the individual recipient levelYES – at the individual recipient levelYES
Able to send MMS?YESComing soon! Contact us if you’d like to be one of the first to know.YES

Your next steps as a business messaging provider

Now that you’re more educated about the options that exist in today’s messaging marketplace, it’s time to choose the right alternative and get ready to migrate. The good news here: we’ve got a migration guide to help you prepare and plan a migration to toll-free today. Thinking about 10DLC? We’d love to chat about this exciting new addition to the industry.

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Looking for an alternative to shared short codes?

Bandwidth's toll-free SMS and local A2P messaging products are great alternatives to shared short codes.

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