Enterprise-Grade Messaging Solutions from SignalWire

How using short codes and toll-free numbers can maximize your A2P SMS deliverability and throughput

Sep 04, 2019

By Erik Lagerway, VP of Product and Abbi Minessale, Content Strategist

The CTIA, a trade association that represents the wireless communications industry in the United States, has recently published an update to their messaging policies and code of conduct. This code of conduct is what most mobile carriers reference when directing customers on acceptable use of mobile carrier network messaging.

Messaging aggregators and application service providers now need to use A2P (Application to person or "Non-Consumer") channels for all commercial content and abide by the code of conduct or they will likely be filtered and messages are at a higher risk of being rejected. The updates revealed in this document clearly convey to all organizations sending commercial messages to end-users that these rules are now being enforced more tightly by wireless carriers like Verizon (who have recently indicated that they will be delaying their upcoming 10DLC A2P offering until further notice; no one is sure when it will actually launch).

Many developers in our community have been left wondering, “what can we use to send A2P content with high reliability and performance? It shouldn’t be this hard.” At SignalWire, we believe in overcoming barriers to innovation, so we are here to help you navigate the ever-evolving messaging landscape. Below we go over two A2P messaging solutions that will help to ensure deliverability and protect your customer’s trust in your branded communications.


Short Codes


While 10DLC (10-digit long code) numbers were originally intended for P2P (Person to person or "Consumer") messaging, SMS short codes are 5-6 digit phone numbers that were specifically designed to be used with A2P messaging. Acquiring a short code involves an authentication and validation process, so traffic sent from these numbers is regarded as legitimate and afforded maximum throughput and deliverability. Short codes have been around for some time, but you should be aware of a few distinguishing factors between Dedicated versus Shared short codes.

Shared short codes: 

Shared short codes have received a bit of a bad rap due to some concerns over the way they have been abused in the past. These short codes are shared between several organizations in order to cut down on cost. The trouble with this shared concept is that it’s very hard to pin down bad actors. If one organization behaves poorly and the short code gets shut down by the carrier, all organizations using that short code suffer for the actions of one. AT&T has gone as far as banning shared short codes on their network, unless they conform to a very short list of use cases and do not include any form of marketing. This is why, at SignalWire, shared short codes are only enabled for 2FA (Two Factor Authentication). If you are looking to lease a new shared short code, stay tuned, we will be enabling this soon.

Dedicated short codes:

Dedicated short codes are the most widely accepted forms of short code in the US market. Dedicated short codes are meant to be used by a single entity, for one use case. For example, Acme Carpets uses a short code to send out the deal of the month to all of its customers that have opted-in to these messages.

At SignalWire, we now enable existing dedicated short codes on our network and will also guide our customers in leasing new short codes for use with our services. Here are some of the benefits of dedicated Short Code messaging:

Highest Throughput: Short code messaging has long been the go-to channel for enterprise-class organizations looking for maximum throughput on messaging campaigns.

High Deliverability: Since dedicated short codes are so well vetted and have a specific use, carrier filters tend to be aligned which enables higher deliverability.

Exclusivity: Dedicated short codes are meant to serve your organization and the use case you have set forth.

Vanity Codes: When submitting your application, you can request a vanity code which means that you can choose numbers that are memorable. This can mean translating a name into numbers, choosing sequential numbers or numbers with the same double or triple numbers. You can also choose between 5 digit codes or 6 digits.


    Toll Free Messaging

    Another channel that SignalWire provides for A2P messaging is the use of Toll Free numbers. Here are some of the benefits of Toll Free messaging:

    Higher Throughput: Toll Free messaging allows for a much higher throughput of messages than long code SMS, although not as high as short code.

    Rapid Provisioning: Toll Free numbers can be ordered and live on the SignalWire network on demand.

    Corporate ID: Toll Free numbers have long been seen as part of an organizational ID and suggests a corporate sender.

    2-way communication: Toll Free messaging, much like long code, provides for seamless 2-way communication.


      We believe that communication is important, especially between your business and your customers, and at SignalWire we work hard to ensure that you have the tools necessary to succeed. Take a look at our disruptive pricing below and don’t hesitate to reach out to your friendly neighborhood SignalWire expert if you have any questions.


      Disruptive Pricing

      In true SignalWire fashion, we have the most competitive pricing in the industry. US Message Rates are as follows:

      Short Code SMS
      Outbound $0.0030*
      Inbound $0.0009*

      Toll Free SMS
      Outbound $0.0055*
      Inbound $0.0055*

      Reach out to the SignalWire sales team today and learn more about how Toll Free and Short Code messaging can help your organization.


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      * Please check our pricing page for up to date pricing. Short code lease rates, carrier activation & pass-through rates apply. Please contact our sales department (Phone: +1.650.382.0000) for more information.