What is A2P 10DLC And Why You Need It

Anahid Akkam
Anahid AkkamContent Manager

Published: May 6, 2024


If your business relies on bulk messaging, chances are you've encountered the buzz surrounding A2P 10DLC. Keeping up with these developments is of utmost importance as they can significantly impact your business operations. But fear not, we're here to guide you through everything you need to know to navigate this effectively.

What is A2P 10DLC?

A2P 10DLC (Application-to-Person 10 Digit Long Code) is a messaging solution introduced to improve the reliability and deliverability of business communications. In response to the landscape of mobile messaging, especially concerning spam and security concerns, mobile carriers implemented changes that required businesses to register their messaging campaigns through a centralized registry.

Since September 1st, 2023, any SMS and MMS messages directed to U.S. phone numbers via 10DLC phone numbers must use an authorized application-to-person (A2P) campaign. Messages sent to the U.S. from unregistered +1 10DLC numbers will face blocking.

This initiative aimed to enhance the transparency and accountability of A2P messaging to make sure that messages sent from long phone numbers (10-digit) comply with specific guidelines and regulations. 

Prior to these changes, businesses primarily relied on short codes when shared short codes were prevalent and toll-free numbers and A2P 10DLC didn't exist. However, they faced limitations as short codes couldn't send MMS. When shared short codes were phased out, many businesses transitioned to using toll-free numbers. A2P 10DLC was less commonly used, while dedicated short codes became the domain of larger enterprises due to their considerable registration and monthly maintenance costs.

But, the introduction of A2P 10DLC opened up opportunities for businesses to use regular 10-digit phone numbers for their campaigns.

However, transitioning to this involves a comprehensive campaign registration procedure. Businesses must register their campaigns, which include various types of messages such as authentication codes, account notifications, and marketing messages. This process involves a vetting procedure where businesses are authenticated to guarantee the legitimacy of their operations and message content.

One significant aspect of this is its impact on text message throughput. While traditional short codes offer higher throughput, A2P 10DLC provides businesses with the flexibility to send outbound messages at a lower volume. This makes it suitable for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and low-volume standard brands.

A2P 10DLC messaging facilitates registration for brands under the same phone numbers, which streamlines communication efforts for businesses with diverse offerings.

But it also has implications beyond the United States, impacting messaging practices in other countries, including Canada. Canadian mobile carriers are also adopting similar measures to enhance the reliability and integrity of business communication.

Who Should Register for A2P 10DLC to Send SMS Messages?

Campaign registration is necessary for entities seeking to maintain effective communication strategies via SMS. This registration process is relevant for businesses using phone numbers for their messaging campaigns, especially those targeting the U.S. market.

Whether it's for sending authentication code messages or business text messaging, compliance with these new regulations provides seamless message delivery and adherence to carrier guidelines.

Businesses operating within the U.S. mobile landscape, including major carriers like T-Mobile and mobile virtual network operators, are subject to these regulations.

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Before this enforcement, businesses might have relied on an existing messaging service or long code messaging for their communication needs. However, to adapt to the evolving messaging environment and ensure improved deliverability, enrollment in A2P 10DLC is imperative.

The registration is particularly beneficial for low volume standard brands and SMEs using a local phone number or toll-free phone number for their messaging campaigns. This way, businesses can enhance their message throughput, influencing delivery rates positively.

Registration marks only the initial step in compliance. However, it does not signify full compliance. Numerous other regulations must be adhered to, including obtaining express written consent from recipients and abiding by specific industry messaging restrictions such as those pertaining to gambling and CBD.

The registration process involves a vetting procedure where businesses are verified, this provides legitimacy and adherence to messaging guidelines. Entities enrolling for this must be prepared to provide the necessary documentation, including tax IDs and business profiles, to facilitate registration.

While there may be associated registration costs, the benefits of improved delivery and reduced carrier filtering outweigh these expenses in the long run. It's important to note that there are mandatory costs involved. The main purpose of registration is not solely to improve delivery or reduce carrier filtering. Rather, it aims to ensure transparency regarding the company behind every number/message being sent to recipients.

What is The Campaign Registry (TCR)?

The Campaign Registry plays a huge role in the implementation and regulation of A2P 10DLC messaging. This is to ensure transparency and accountability in business communication.

Created to address concerns surrounding unsolicited and spam messages, the registry serves as a centralized platform for registering A2P messaging campaigns targeting mobile networks such as T-Mobile network and other mobile carriers.

Businesses using A2P 10DLC messaging, whether through existing inbound message handling systems or newly created services, must register their campaigns with the registry.

This process involves a thorough vetting procedure to verify the legitimacy of businesses and their messaging content. By registering business profiles and their campaigns, companies can expect improved message traffic management and reduced instances of unregistered traffic. While carrier networks can see who is sending the messages and their intended use case, this visibility doesn't extend to the actual companies—such as Dexatel users—who will submit their business details to TCR during the registration process.

One of the primary objectives of the Campaign Registry is to make sure that only registered campaigns are allowed to send text messages, including SMS and MMS, to recipients within the designated mobile networks. This regulation helps maintain the integrity of the messaging ecosystem and enhances the overall user experience.

General Steps for the Registration Process

The US registration process ensures that all A2P 10DLC traffic to US phone numbers is authenticated and consensual. This campaign registration requirements comprise two primary components: creating a brand and creating a campaign.

1. Determine Your Customer Type

Identify the type of customer you are, whether an individual, business, or organization, to establish your sender identity for messaging purposes.

2. Determine Your Brand Type

Specify the nature of your brand, whether it's a corporate entity, non-profit organization, or individual, to accurately represent your sender profile to mobile carriers.

3. Determine Your Campaign Use Case Type

Define the purpose and scope of your messaging campaign, outlining how end-users can opt in, opt out, and seek assistance regarding message delivery.

4. Verification and Vetting by TCR and Mobile Carriers

Undergo a comprehensive vetting process conducted by TCR and mobile carriers to validate your sender identity and campaign legitimacy. This step ensures compliance with carrier regulations and messaging standards.

5. Testing and Launch

Conduct thorough testing of your messaging infrastructure and campaign setup to verify delivery and functionality. Once testing is successful, launch your registered campaign to begin sending messages to US phone numbers.

Advantages of Becoming A2P Authorized

1. Improved Deliverability Due to Separate Channel

By using A2P authorized channels, your messages are segregated from non-authorized traffic, ensuring higher deliverability rates. This separation reduces the risk of your messages being flagged as spam and increases the likelihood of reaching your intended recipients.

2. Higher Volume/Throughput Capability Than Standard Local Number Texting

A2P authorized channels typically offer higher message throughput capabilities compared to standard local number texting, allowing you to send messages at a higher volume and frequency. This increased throughput enables you to reach a larger audience more efficiently.

3. Greater Credibility of Messages = More Likely to Garner a Response

Messages sent through A2P authorized channels are perceived as more credible and trustworthy by recipients, increasing the likelihood of eliciting a response. This credibility enhances the effectiveness of your communication efforts and fosters stronger engagement with your audience.

4. Less Expensive Than Short Codes

A2P authorized channels are often more cost-effective than traditional short codes, offering a more affordable messaging solution without compromising on reliability or functionality. This cost savings can contribute to significant long-term savings for your business.

5. Exclusivity - No Sharing of the Number with Other Brands

Unlike short codes, which may be shared among multiple brands, A2P authorized channels provide exclusivity, ensuring that your business has sole ownership of the assigned number. This exclusivity enhances brand recognition and establishes a unique identity for your messaging campaigns.

6. Voice-Enabled Numbers Mean Recipients Can Call You Back If They Choose

A2P authorized numbers often support voice functionality, allowing recipients to call back if they choose to engage in further communication. This voice option adds an additional layer of interactivity and convenience for recipients, enhancing the overall user experience.

7. Separated from Spammers - Carrier Networks are Committed to Keeping Scammers Separate from Your Brand

A2P authorized channels are rigorously monitored and regulated by major mobile carriers to prevent unauthorized or spammy messages. By using A2P authorized channels, your business is separated from spammers, ensuring that your messaging campaigns maintain credibility and integrity.

Why 10DLC Compliance Matters

The significance of 10DLC compliance extends beyond mere convenience. It plays a big role in providing consumer trust and mitigating security risks associated with SMS communication.

A2P 10DLC was created in response to a growing concern surrounding the proliferation of spam and text scams flooding consumers' phones. As the volume of unsolicited messages increased, consumers became increasingly wary of all SMS, including legitimate ones. This erosion of trust not only posed a threat to businesses' communication strategies but also exposed consumers to potential phishing attacks and other security vulnerabilities.

To address these challenges, Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented stronger regulations and mandates. They made opt-outs non-negotiable and prioritized consumer protection. A2P 10DLC emerged as a comprehensive solution to ensure compliance with these regulations while maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of business communications.

1. Protection of Consumer Trust

By adhering to A2P 10DLC compliance standards, businesses demonstrate their commitment to transparency and consumer protection. Compliance helps mitigate the risk of consumers being inundated with spam and scams. This fosters trust and confidence in SMS communication.

2. Mitigation of Security Risks

Compliance measures help mitigate security risks associated with SMS communication, such as phishing attacks and identity theft. By implementing stringent verification and authentication processes, businesses can minimize the likelihood of unauthorized access and data breaches.

3. Enhanced Deliverability and Effectiveness

Compliance with these standards ensures improved deliverability and effectiveness of business messages. By using authorized channels and adhering to best practices, businesses can maximize the reach and impact of their messaging campaigns. This ultimately drives greater engagement and ROI.

4. Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Failure to adhere to these standards may result in penalties, fines, and reputational damage for businesses, highlighting the importance of proactive compliance efforts.

What Happens If You Don't Register?

Message filtering and charges will rise for unregistered messages. Since July 5, 2023, unregistered numbers have faced increasing message blocking. By August 31, 2023, all unregistered US-bound messages were blocked with a '30034' error.

What Happens if You're Sending a Low Volume of Messages to the US?

If you don't have a tax ID, you can enroll in a Sole Proprietor Brand tailored for individuals.

But if you do own a tax ID, registration is necessary, irrespective of message volume. For volumes below 6,000 message segments daily, opt for Low Volume Standard Brands registration.

How Does this Affect Short Codes and Toll-Free Numbers?

The amendments have minimal impact on both short codes and toll-free numbers, except for the official prohibition of shared short codes for all purposes except authentication codes.

Dedicated short codes remain an excellent option for high-volume A2P messaging in the United States. However, the use of shared short code numbers is now discontinued. 

Clients using a shared short code among brands for purposes other than sending two-factor codes should transition entirely away from shared short codes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are A2P 10DLC inbound message handling settings?

These settings refer to the configurations and protocols established for managing incoming messages within this framework. These settings ensure efficient and effective handling of inbound messages to optimize communication processes.

2. How do I send application-to-person (A2P) message using A2P 10DLC?

To send an A2P message, you must first register your campaign and brand with the appropriate authorities. Once registered, you can utilize A2P 10DLC channels to send text messages to recipients, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards.

3. What should I expect regarding registered MMS traffic with A2P 10DLC?

The registration enables businesses to send multimedia messages (MMS) to recipients, enhancing the richness and effectiveness of communication. MMS traffic ensures compliance with carrier guidelines and facilitates seamless delivery of multimedia content to recipients.

4. Can I operate my mobile number within this framework?

Yes, you can operate your mobile numbers to send A2P messages while maintaining your existing mobile numbers.

5. What is long code MMS messaging in this context?

This refers to the capability of sending multimedia messages (MMS) using long phone numbers. This feature enhances the versatility and functionality of messaging campaigns, enabling the delivery of multimedia content to recipients.

6. How does A2P 10DLC impact MMS?

It introduces regulations and standards for MMS messaging, ensuring compliance with carrier guidelines and industry best practices. This framework enhances the reliability and effectiveness of MMS campaigns, facilitating seamless communication with recipients.

7. Can I engage a campaign service provider for A2P 10DLC compliance?

Yes, businesses can collaborate with campaign service providers to ensure compliance with regulations and standards. These providers offer expertise and support in navigating the registration process and implementing compliant messaging campaigns.

8. What is a messaging service SID in the context of A2P 10DLC?

A messaging service identifier is a unique identifier assigned to messaging services. This identifier helps differentiate and manage messaging services, ensuring efficient communication and compliance with regulatory requirements.

9. How is WhatsApp messaging affected by A2P 10DLC?

The regulations may impact WhatsApp messaging by introducing compliance requirements and standards for A2P messaging via the platform. Businesses utilizing WhatsApp for A2P communication should ensure adherence to guidelines to maintain compliance and reliability.

10. Are there specific per-message carrier fees associated with A2P 10DLC?

Yes, they may involve per-message carrier fees imposed by mobile carriers for message transmission. These fees vary depending on factors such as message volume, destination, and carrier agreements, influencing the cost of A2P messaging campaigns.

11. What are the campaign types supported by A2P 10DLC?

It supports various campaign types, including promotional campaigns, transactional messages, customer service notifications, and more. These cater to diverse business needs and objectives, enabling effective communication with customers and stakeholders.

12. How does A2P 10DLC influence message throughput?

It enhances throughput by providing optimized channels and protocols for message delivery. This framework ensures efficient transmission of messages, minimizing delays and enhancing the overall responsiveness of communication channels.

13. Are telephone services affected by new regulations?

Yes, regulations may impact services by introducing compliance requirements and standards for A2P messaging via telephone networks. Businesses using these services for A2P communication should ensure adherence to guidelines to maintain compliance and reliability.

14. How do A2P 10DLC regulations apply to other mobile networks?

The regulations apply to all mobile networks, ensuring consistent compliance and standards across the telecommunications industry. Businesses operating on other networks should adhere to guidelines to ensure compliance and reliability in messaging operations.

15. Is registration mandatory?

Yes, 10DLC registration is essential for businesses that want to use 10-digit local numbers for messaging purposes. Any attempt to send messages from an unregistered 10-digit local number will result in non-delivery to recipients. The deadline for existing businesses sending messages from 10-digit local numbers was August 31, 2023. Subsequently, as of September 1, 2023, all US carriers block messaging traffic from unregistered numbers.

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