Using Shortcodes as a Sender Address

Shortcodes are unique identifiers that are required to send application-to Person (A2P) messages to end-users. There are 2 main types of shortcodes in most countries.

  1. Vanity shortcodes
  2. Numeric (Non-Vanity shortcodes)
  • Obtaining a Vanity Short Code: Not only are there dedicated short codes, there are also vanity, and non-vanity short codes. Vanity short codes are 5-6 digits, and are specifically selected. Usually vanity short codes are selected over non-vanity short codes, because they’re easier for consumers to remember the numbers. For example, vanity short codes would be numbers like 12345, 313131, 99000, etc.
  • Non-vanity short codes are 5-6 digits, and are selected at random by the Common Shortcode Administrator (CSCA). For example, non-vanity short codes would be numbers like 49732, 958372, 34930, etc. It’s interesting to note that the majority of SMS short codes are non-vanity short codes.
  • What are the rules governing Short Codes?
    1. CTIA Rules: To protect consumers against bad apples, the wireless carriers set up a group called the CTIA to enforce SMS marketing practices that are in the best interests of the consumer. To do this, the CTIA carries out audits on SMS programs based on the rules found in their CTIA Short Code Compliance Handbook. If a text messaging campaign is found to be in violation of any of the guidelines in the CTIA Short Code Compliance Handbook, the text messaging campaign can be deactivated by the wireless carriers.
    2. TCPA Rules: Before starting an SMS marketing campaign, it’s important to understand what the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is, and what you as a business needs to do to remain compliant with the TCPA while running a text message marketing campaign on a short code. A link to the rules can be found here
  • North America SMS Messaging:
    1. Short Code Messaging: An SMS short code can send both text messages (plain text – 160 characters), commonly referred to as SMS and multimedia messages (images, videos, long plain text), and commonly referred to as MMS. An SMS short code must be provisioned specially with the wireless carriers to send and receive MMS messages.
  • How much does it cost to lease a Short Code? When a dedicated SMS short code is approved, a business must then pay for the dedicated short code lease, before they can start the wireless carrier approval process. Customers can lease their shortcode directly from CSCA or through the Syniverse Developer community portal.  A monthly lease on a dedicated SMS short code will cost a business $1,000. Businesses can pay for their dedicated sms short code leases by credit card, electronic funds transfer, and check. It’s important to note that in addition to the lease of the dedicated SMS short code, a business may also have to pay to setup the short code, in addition to hosting the short code.
  • Wireless Carrier Approval Process: When the Common Short Code Administration approves your short code application, then it’s time to get each and every wireless carrier to approve your SMS campaign. This process usually requires much more information about your SMS campaign than is required for the Common Short Code Administration application.
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