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Sinch : Your guide to Short Codes, 10DLC, and Toll-Free Numbers in North America

01/10/2022 | 01:38pm EDT

So you need to communicate with your customer base in the U.S. and Canada - but you're not sure how to do it? It's a jungle out there with Short Codes, 10DLC, and Toll-Free Numbers.

We're here to help you figure it all out. When choosing your method, here are a few things you should keep in mind. First things first...

What is a short code?

Short codes are 5-6 (or 8) digit numbers used for A2P messaging in the U.S. and Canada. They're easy to remember, and when used effectively, can become a recognizable part of your brand. Short codes are a well-established business messaging channel and are best suited for high volume messaging or use cases where immediate message delivery is critical. They support multimedia messaging (MMS) and delivery receipts but not voice.

What is 10DLC?

10-Digit Long Codes (10DLC) are a new messaging solution in the U.S. using a local phone number that's already associated with your business. They support voice services and MMS, but not delivery receipts.

What's a toll-free number?

Toll-free numbers are numbers with distinct three-digit area codes that can be dialed from landlines with no charge to the caller. These numbers are available in the U.S. and Canada and have been sanctioned as a business messaging channel for several years. You can use toll-free numbers for all types of A2P messaging, including marketing. (Remember, though, that it's important that users have opted-in to receive marketing content!) They support voice, MMS, and delivery receipts.

What is a long number?

Long numbers are for P2P messaging only. You can't use them for marketing or A2P messaging in the U.S. And they're going out of style! In fact, U.S. carriers have mandated that all businesses using Long Numbers switch to a sanctioned business messaging channel (Short Code, 10DLC, or Toll-Free) or face fees, fines, and heavy filtering or blocking.

So what number type is right for you? One size doesn't fit all - let's consider your specific requirements!

What's your goal with messaging?

If you want high throughput, and a channel that's reliable and been around for a long time, then short codes are the best route to take. These numbers go through a rigorous approval process, which means they're some of the most trusted numbers around. Short and snappy, short codes are also easy to remember and generate high levels of engagement. So if you're hoping to gain brand recognition and are expecting high volumes of customer interactions as a result of your messages, then these are the way to go!

Toll-free numbers can help maximize your reach, as you can use one number for both the U.S. and Canada. Besides, most customers already use toll-free numbers to call companies today, so use these trusted numbers to engage in 2-way conversations with them via SMS, or MMS too!

But if a local presence is important to you, consider 10DLC. With these area-code specific numbers, you can start 2-way conversations and send powerful messages, including images or video with MMS, to get campaigns noticed. With 10DLC, you also avoid getting caught up in spam filters with carrier campaign registration. All important things when it comes to trusted messaging!

If you need one number for your business that supports calls and text, then both 10DLC and toll-free numbers are great choices. If you need to be absolutely sure that a message reaches the end user, choose short code or toll-free - both support handset delivery receipts.

How many messages will you be sending?

When it comes to sending hundreds of messages per seconds (mps), short code is the best option. You can reach 500 mps or more on a short code.

The standard throughput on a toll-free number is only 10 mps, but these numbers can also allow for fast message delivery (at speeds comparable to short codes) depending on the use case. 10DLC speeds also vary with the type of business and messaging use case and can reach speeds up to 75 mps.

How quickly do you want to start sending?

In a hurry? 10DLC and toll-free numbers take only a few days to set up. If you have a straightforward use case, you can register and activate a 10DLC in a matter of days, if not the same day. Likewise, toll-free numbers take only a few days to register and activate. So, if it's speed-to-market you're after, then look at 10DLC or toll-free numbers.

Because short codes go through a lengthier review process with U.S. carriers, it can take 3 to 6 weeks before you can begin sending messages. If you have a special business case with specific throughput needs, a 10DLC may take 3 to 4 weeks for approval.

Here's a handy table with all the relevant product features to help find the right number for you!

Traditional Long Number Toll-Free Number Short Code 10DLC
Digit length 10 digits 10 digits 5-6 digits 10 digits
Messaging model P2P A2P A2P A2P and P2P
Voice enabled Yes, U.S. and Canada Yes, U.S. and Canada N/A Yes, U.S. and Canada
Requires brand vetting No No Yes, U.S. only Yes
Requires campaign approval No Yes Yes Yes, via TCR (The Campaign Registry)
Provisioning 1-3 business days 3-5 business days 3-6 weeks 3-5 business days
Throughput 1 msg/sec 10 msg/sec*** 10-500 msg/sec Up to 75 msg/sec with MNO approval
Delivery Receipts (DLRs) No Yes, U.S. and Canada* Yes No handset DLR, SMSC DLR in most of NANP**
MMS Yes, U.S. and Canada Yes, U.S. and Canada Yes, U.S. only Yes, U.S. and Canada
Keywords required No Stop, Unstop - Network managed Opt-in/out and Help Opt-in/out
FTEU Not supported Not supported Available Not supported
Endorsed by U.S. carriers No, carrier filtering/blocking Yes Yes Yes
Endorsed by CTIA No Yes Yes Yes
Supported U.S. carriers All All All AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint, US Cellular

* Canada - Bell support TBD as of September 15, 2021

** NANP: North American Numbering Plan countries: U.S., Canada, U.S. territories, and the Caribbean

*** Standard throughput is 10 msg/sec. Higher throughput is available, depending on use case, at speeds comparable to short codes. Contact us to get more information.

Need a bit more information to help you make a decision? Take a look at our Short Codes, 10DLC, and Toll-Free Numbers product pages for more details, or get in touch to discuss further. We can't wait to hear from you!


Sinch AB (publ) published this content on 10 January 2022 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 10 January 2022 18:37:03 UTC.

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