Everything to Know About 10 DLC and Commercial Long Codes

Everything to Know About 10 DLC and Commercial Long Codes

10 DLC Numbers and Messaging

There’s a lot that’s been happening in the world of messaging over the last several years, particularly on the consumer side. Mobile messaging among people of all ages has exploded and has become the number one way that people elect to receive communications. There has been a massive shift away from phone calls as we’re seeing their effectiveness continue to fall year after year. Businesses and organizations across all industries have been turning to text messaging to effectively communicate important information and marketing to their audiences.

Every day we’re seeing new creative ways that companies are making uses of A2P messaging to connect with people. A2P stands for “application to person” and is an industry term used to reference sending text messages to individuals programmatically from computers. You’ve likely received an A2P text message if you’ve ever received a marketing text or an SMS reminder from your doctor’s office. While use cases have been constantly growing and evolving, one thing that hasn’t is the messaging services that support them. That’s about to change in 2019 with the introduction of 10DLC messaging.

What is 10DLC?

10DLC stands for “10 digit long code”. Also known as “commercial long codes”, these phone numbers will become the new standard in A2P text messaging for many organizations. While it may sound confusing, it’s actually quite simple. A 10DLC number is just a standard 10-digit phone number that supports the high volume messaging throughput required for business use cases.

When the first version of 10 digit A2P messaging came out many years ago, it was only designed for very low throughput and simple 1 on 1 communications. As use cases for business text messaging and SMS marketing have grown, so has the demand on these messaging services that haven’t been able to keep up. 10 DLC SMS is the next generation of A2P text messaging that addresses this specific need.

Why 10DLC?

There are several reasons why the messaging industry has decided to create 10DLC SMS but it really comes down to a few specific things… messaging volume, accountability, and new business opportunities. Let’s go deeper and explore each.

Messaging Volume

Currently, there are just a few options for sending A2P text messages. You can either use standard long codes, toll-free long codes, or short codes. Each have their pros and cons.

Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers that support extremely high volume messaging and are used primarily for SMS marketing and mass text alerts. With short codes you can send millions of text messages per day and at rates up to 500 per second. They can be quite expensive and range anywhere from $850 to $1,500 per month just for the number. Up until this point, short codes are the only A2P messaging channel that supports large text blasts. They require a formal application process, a 8 to 12 week waiting period, and also do not support phone calls.

Toll-free long codes are standard toll-free phone numbers that support text messaging and phone calls. While they are an alternative for some businesses that cannot foot the bill for their own short code, they can only send at a rate of 3 messages per second and support sending of a few thousand texts per day.

Local long codes are normal, every-day 10 digit local phone numbers. They can only send at a rate of 1 message per second and only support sending of a few hundred messages per day. They are really only meant for 1 to 1, transactional messaging and phone calls.

So after a quick review of the 3 options for sending A2P messaging, it’s obvious that there isn’t an affordable solution for sending mass quantities of text messages. Short codes are great but with the monthly cost for just the number alone, it’s not feasible for many businesses. Additionally, they don’t support voice so phone calls are out of the question. 10DLC text messaging will soon become the fourth option for A2P messaging.

While there is still a lot of speculation around what these 10 DLC numbers will actually be capable of, we know that they are intended to support a medium to high volume rate of send that is between that of toll free numbers and short codes. Early discussions with carriers and other industry leaders have indicated that 10DLCs should be capable of sending around 100,000 text messages per month with a send rate of between 5 and 15 text messages per second. Additionally, their costs per month are expected to be on par with standard long codes which are normally between $1 and $2.

Accountability

With short codes being the only true way of sending mass text messages at scale, how do businesses make use of their power in an affordable way? They share them. Shared short codes are standard, every day short codes that are used by many brands. In some cases, thousands of brands will use a single number. While this has worked for years and continues to do so, there’s an inherent problem that the carriers see with shared short codes. If someone is sending spam, or violating their guidelines, it becomes much more difficult to identify who’s at fault. Furthermore, in order to shut them down, they have to shut the entire short code down which would terminate thousands of other innocent text programs that are likely playing by the rules.

10DLCs SMS aim to solve this specific issue as each business or organization would have their own dedicated number. At just a few dollars per month and ability to send high volumes of numbers, these commercial long codes are the perfect solution to the message volume and accountability issues.

Carriers like AT&T have explicitly come out and said that once 10DLC SMS is alive and working across all carrier networks, their plans are to sunset shared short codes. This was outlined in their latest code of conduct document however there has been no official word as to what that “wind down” process would look like. There’s also no time frames associated with it. AT&T has been the pioneer in proposing these changes to shared short codes as no other carriers have hinted at the same actions. It is likely, however, that the others will follow at some point. If and when AT&T decides to sunset shared short codes, there will be a “migration period” where users of shared codes will be able to secure their own dedicated short codes or move to 10DLC numbers.

New business opportunities

The cellular carriers are in the business of making money. Anyone who works in the mobile messaging space with any business intelligence can see the gaping hole of opportunity that lies between toll free numbers and short codes. Businesses need to send messages at scale. Currently they have very limited options. The product opportunity is as clear as day. What makes things even sweeter is that carriers make little money on existing long code messaging. They will make much more on 10DLC SMS messaging as the costs will be the same as short codes. Once it’s widely adopted and in use, people will naturally migrate their messaging traffic to this new commercial A2P channel even with the increase in rates. More dollars in the pockets of the carriers will keep the shareholders happy.

 

Features of 10DLC Numbers

Now that we understand what 10 DLC is, why the messaging industry is working to build it out, and the entire backstory, let’s take a closer look at what features and functionality we can expect to see with this new messaging channel.

Higher messaging throughput

With the new 10DLC numbers, we can expect to see much higher messaging throughput than we currently get on either local or toll-free long codes. While we know it won’t have the same capabilities as short codes regarding send rates, we do believe that it will satisfy most business needs as far as mass text messaging.

Lower costs

As stated before, 10DLC numbers, should be relatively low in cost compared to short codes and run only a few dollars per month per number. This one is not chiseled in stone yet however. As far as the cost per message, it will be more expensive that standard long code messaging but it won’t be any more than cost per message when sending with short codes.

A dedicated line

The new 10DLC text messaging solution will offer people the ability to have dedicated numbers. Again, this is pretty much due to their low cost. This will be a large plus however for those who want strict control of what types of messages are being sent with the number they use. One bad apple can’t spoil the bunch. Additionally, businesses will be able to provision their landlines as 10DLC numbers so that they can send and receive text messages with their existing numbers.

Voice enabled

Aside from the messaging functionality and unlike short codes, the new 10DLC numbers are confirmed to support voice as well. This will allow you to send and receive text messages on the same number that people can simply pick up the phone and dial. This will help to create a much more cohesive experience for consumers who are interacting with their favorite businesses and brands.

The 10DLC Rollout

So we know that this new 10DLC messaging channel is not here yet but is just around the corner… so they say. Among the outstanding questions that are left, one big one is how the roll out / launch is going to work. As we saw in the early years of SMS, it’s won’t be that effective if all cellular carriers aren’t ready to play ball. When text messaging was first launched, it was much less effective than it is today as you could only send texts to people using your same network. So AT&T customers could only text other AT&T customers and no one else. The same is true for 10DLC messaging.

In order for commercial long codes to be truly effective in their purpose, each of the carriers will have to have their own 10DLC product ready and working. From what we can tell, there’s still some time before that happens. As things stand, Verizon tried to launch theirs on Feb 1st of this year but had to push their launch date back because of a lack of readiness. We anticipate another scheduled launch in Q2 however nothing concrete has surfaced. Once Verizon launches, the other carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile are expected to follow but it might not be until 2020 for all of them to be up and running.

Only after each individual carrier has worked out their bugs and launched their version of 10DLC text messaging will businesses and organizations truly be able to take advantage of what it has to offer. It’s important that they all play nice with each other and realize that if they don’t work in harmony, the chances of success are much lower.

Overall, this new A2P SMS messaging channel is expected to be a game changer for many different industries. As we continue to evolve and explore new ways of leveraging messaging to communicate, so the businesses we interact with. 10DLC messaging will only help them to keep up.

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