Local phone numbers might be the longest standing phone number type, but when it comes to business messaging, there's a complicated past and present. As text messaging became more and more attractive to businesses, messaging providers found a way to enable messaging on local phone numbers and landlines, but it wasn’t fully sanctioned by the wireless carriers. Carriers wanted a way to distinguish between person-to-person messaging traffic, like texting with your friends, and business messaging traffic using local numbers. Among other things, volumetric filters were put in place to identify the sending patterns of businesses versus humans, but some messaging providers found ways to circumvent those filters by using bad practices like phone number cycling and snowshoeing, where a large pool of numbers is used to spread out traffic. Enter: sanctioned business messaging known as 10DLC.
Utilizing 10DLC is complicated as carriers are still rolling out their programs, but we know enough about what those programs will look like to provide insight. Ideally, 10DLC is used by businesses that have a need to show their locality, like a realtor wanting to have the same area code as the clients they serve. The use case for 10DLC is generally two-way conversational messaging, even when promotional messaging is the primary business goal. Users will have the expectation that a person is available to respond to them and often reply to messages sent on 10DLC with questions or comments—making it ideal for more personalized messaging interactions.
Local numbers are inexpensive, but the carrier fees associated with 10DLC vary between carriers and can be quite costly. Some carriers charge a flat fee to send on 10DLC, whereas others implement a fee scale based on a sender score that is determined via a campaign registration process. While the campaign management process is not as involved as what you experience with short codes, campaign vetting is generally required to qualify for better rates, and even message throughput. Campaign registration may include additional fees, as well, making 10DLC second to short code in the breadth of campaign registration fees and requirements. Find out more about carrier fees here: link to 10DLC support article.
10DLC has some important drawbacks to note. Handset DLRs are not enabled on local numbers, meaning businesses have no way to know if messages are being received by users. The only way businesses find out they are experiencing deliverability issues is when a problem is identified via user complaints—not ideal for a positive customer experience.
There is also the issue that whether delivered or not, you pay for the message you send, not just the ones that are delivered. That means you're paying to send the message along with these additional fees, so you may be sending and paying for messages that never get to their destination and there is no refund process in the messaging industry, though it's worth noting that this is true for all messaging channels. What makes 10DLC unique is there is no way to measure performance and proactively correct issues, whereas short codes and toll-free messaging provide a level of visibility that allow businesses to take corrective action almost immediately.