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What is A2P 10DLC? And Why Does it Matter in 2022?

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Texting isn’t as simple as it used to be. At least, not for businesses. Now instead of typing and sending messages to anyone you want whenever you want, you have to jump through hoops that mobile carriers have set up.

Fortunately, getting compliant doesn’t have to be complicated. In this post, we’ll look at mobile carriers’ latest requirement for business messaging — A2P 10DLC — and give you some tips for getting started ASAP.

But first, let’s get a few definitions out of the way.

  • Person-to-person (P2P): Text messaging between two people, where no application or platform is being used by either party.
  • Application-to-person (A2P): Text messages that are sent from an API, platform, or application to a person, usually a customer.
  • 10-Digit Long Code (DLC): A ten-digit phone number that businesses can use to send A2P text messages to customers, without being flagged or blocked by mobile carriers.
  • The Campaign Registry (TCR): TCR is the single source registry vendor that validates businesses & their messaging campaigns to protect mobile users from scammers and reduce the risk of SPAM.
  • Direct Connect Aggregators (DCA): Companies that have direct connections to mobile carrier gateways and can facilitate message sending between businesses to customers, like Telgorithm.
  • Override Services Registry (OSR): NetNumber is the singular registry that provides message signaling on phone numbers. ALL phone numbers must be OSR registered via DCA’s in order to be able to send and receive messages.
  • Campaign Service Provider (CSP): CSPs offer messaging services to businesses, enabling them to create and launch successful text messaging campaigns. For reference, Telgorithm is a registered CSP.
  • Brands (Customer): The business/organization that’s sending messages to customers’ mobile phones.
  • Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing happens when you send similar messages from multiple numbers to avoid per number rate limits and message volume limitations. Snowshoeing is a common strategy used by spammers. If you use this technique, your messages will probably be blocked.

What is A2P 10DLC and How Did it Come to Be?

Before application-to-person messaging (A2P) took shape, text messaging was reserved for person-to-person (P2P) communication.

In the 90s, P2P messaging had its humble beginnings. The very first message, “Merry Christmas”, was typed into a computer interface and sent to Vodafone’s Richard Jarvis. Simple and arguably primitive by today’s standards.

But it didn’t take long for SMS, like Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S, to take on a life of its own. In a little more than a decade, billions of P2P messages were being sent worldwide. And as mobile capabilities evolved, it became an increasingly popular way to communicate with friends and family. In fact, by 2007, P2P text messaging actually outpaced monthly phone calls in America.

As this happened, commercial businesses realized that text messaging could be one of their most effective communication channels. And it’s no surprise why. With a 99% open rate and fast read time (95% of consumers read new messages within 3 minutes), text messaging offered businesses a clear line to their customers. As a result, businesses doubled down on SMS / MMS messaging as an official communication channel for marketing, sales, and customer support.

Not surprisingly, bad actors quickly began infiltrating the system and sending SPAM messages to customers, though. And since A2P traffic and P2P traffic was mixed, carriers initially had a hard time protecting their customers from unwanted messages. As a result, trust in the sacred P2P ecosystem and mobile carriers diminished.

Not willing to risk their relationship with their customers, mobile carriers put their proverbial foot down in 2020, by launching A2P 10DLC services. Leading the charge was Verizon.

Now, with a fully sanctioned A2P 10DLC path (White Route), businesses around the United States and Canada have an ecosystem that supports higher per message throughput rates (eliminating the need to circumvent throughput limitations through snowshoeing) and higher per message deliverability. You can think of it like air traffic control, which allows good planes to fly freely and removes the bad ones from the sky.

Mobile carriers have also partnered with the TCR (more information below) and the OSR to deliver the A2P ecosystem. In partnership with TCR, mobile carriers now have complete visibility on each sender and message. This allows them to provide better quality service (in the form of higher deliverability and higher throughput).

But this isn’t just a nice-to-have service for businesses who are interested in opting in. Mobile carriers are mandating that businesses shift to A2P immediately. And since failure to do so could result in service disruptions for you and the brands you represent, you need to take a good, hard look at A2P as soon as possible.

Who’s Affected by the New A2P Requirement?

If you use APIs to send text messages through cloud solutions or applications, you’re required  to move your messaging to an A2P ecosystem. This is true whether you’re sending appointment reminders, requesting two-factor authentication, or simply chatting with a customer.

Why? Because mobile carriers have already started flagging business SMS as SPAM. And they’re only getting more aggressive, blocking more and more SMS messages from reaching consumers, and charging higher per message tariffs. Eventually, we may even reach the point where only P2P messages can make it past the P2P gatekeepers.

How do you set up A2P 10DLC?

Simply put, the process involves the following:

  • Within The Campaign Registry (TCR):
    • Register your company with a CSP (e.g., Telgorithm) or become your own CSP;
    • Register your brands;
    • Register your 10DLC messaging campaigns;
  • Messaging service provider (e.g., Telgorithm):
    • Connect phone numbers to 10DLC messaging campaigns (you must provide this information to your provider); and,
    • Update the OSR, so your numbers are correctly assigned to your campaigns.

How Do I Register with TCR?

While the process can be tedious, registering with TCR is relatively straightforward. Here’s what you need:

  • Customer/brand information (this could be thousands if you’re in the SaaS space)
    • Company Name
    • Website URL
    • Tax ID / EIN
    • Point of contact name, contact number, and email address
  • Campaign information (each brand could have more than one campaign; one campaign equals one use case)
    • The campaign registration process requires detailed information related to the use case type and sample business text messages that will be sent during the campaign.

A2P 10DLC Messaging Use Cases

No matter your reason for sending text messages to customers, you need to register with the TCR. That being said, here are a few common ways you might use A2P messaging.

example-use-case

Benefits of A2P 10DLC 

Once you register your campaigns and assign your numbers with the TCR, you’re essentially pre-approved to send messages at the pre-designated throughputs, oftentimes higher than 1 message per second (or 60 messages per minute).

Due to the design of the A2P ecosystem, you’ll also see a higher deliverability rate of your text messages (close to 100%). Another benefit of registering with TCR is that carriers know who you are and what your content looks like (since you can provide sample content). This ensures better deliverability, which is important as low deliverability and high throughput mean very little to your business goals.

How Long Do I Have to Switch to A2P 10DLC?

It’s unclear when major U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will completely block A2P-designated traffic from traveling the P2P path (known as “Grey Routing”). But chances are high that you’re already experiencing less than 80% deliverability and higher per message carrier fees. So the sooner you make the switch, the better off your messaging strategy will be overall.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your messaging services running is a full-time job. With Telgorithm, you can bridge the gap between your teams and your customers without any extra effort. Besides giving you all the tools you need to make the switch to A2P 10DLC messaging, we handle the implementation for you, giving you the freedom to focus on your work and peace of mind that you’re compliant with carriers’ rule changes.

Want to chat more about A2P 10DLC messaging? Let’s chat.

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