Everything You Need To Know About 10DLC SMS

What It Means, How It Affects Your Business, and How to Stay Compliant

SMS texting has become a vital channel for businesses to reach their target audience with high customer engagement rates and proven ROI, especially since the start of the pandemic. 

If you receive a text message from an unknown number, you might not respond to it, but you’ll probably read it, right? SMS has a 98% open rate, while emails generally have a 22% open rate. 

A2P messaging

Customers like receiving helpful text messages and communicating with businesses over text because it’s EASY. What they don’t like is being spammed. In the summer of 2021, the FCC implemented new regulations to eliminate spam and help businesses who use A2P messaging (application-to-person messaging) better connect with customers. A2P messaging is any kind of message traffic in which a person is receiving messages from an application. Here are some examples of common A2P messages: 

  • Mobile marketing
  • Appointment reminders
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Voting and surveys
  • 2FA (Two-factor Authentication) 

What is 10DLC?

In response, carriers implemented a new standard for businesses to send A2P messages — 10DLC. 10DLC may sound like a 1980’s hip hop band, but it actually stands for 10 digit long code, commonly referred to as “commercial long codes.” 10DLC is the system established by US carriers that allows businesses to send A2P style messaging via standard phone numbers.

Unfortunately, navigating the next generation of business texting (ie. 10DLC) and understanding how it will impact your business is not so easy. This is a comprehensive resource to help you and your team learn exactly what you need to know about 10DLC and the changing A2P text messaging landscape. 

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Why 10DLC is being implemented
  • How 10DLC compares to toll free codes and short codes
  • The benefits of 10DLC
  • What you need to know before getting started with 10DLC to protect your company 
  • How to get started with 10DLC

Why is 10DLC being implemented?

All U.S. carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint and US Cellular) are transitioning from unregistered long codes to 10DLC. 10DLC regulations are designed to protect consumers  receiving texts by preventing spam and unwanted messaging. 

What about toll free codes and short codes? 

Are toll free codes and short codes a better option than 10DLC?  In short, no.  The disadvantages of using toll-free codes and short codes, make 10DLC your BEST option. Not to mention, shared short codes will likely lead to poor delivery as carrier traffic migrates to long codes.

  • 10DLC v. toll free numbers: Despite its name, a toll free code is not free for recipients. Standard messaging rates often apply, and these texts often look like spam.

  • 10DLC v. short codes: Shared short codes will no longer be usable. These are being banned entirely, meaning you will have no service if you try to use a shared short code.

What are the benefits of 10DLC?

  • You’ll incur lower monthly costs than toll-free or short codes
    10DLC numbers are low in cost compared to short codes and run at only a few dollars per month per number. However, the amount of texts sent will carry an additional charge.

  • You have the ability to send texts from a local number
    People are 4x more likely to answer calls from a local number. And 8 out of 10 people say they won’t answer a call from an unknown number. Texting from a local number significantly increases your chance to connect. 

  • You can provide a better customer experience
    10DLC numbers are a reliable channel for customers to reach you without the hiccups of extra costs, spammers, and slow deliverability. 

  • You are able to text and call on the same number
    Maintaining a specific number helps your company be more easily identified and earn you greater trust from recipients.

  • You will keep your number spam free
    10DLC numbers have a registered dedicated number to ensure that only your business is using the number, which protects your reputation.

  • You’re able to simply convert from existing landline numbers
    10DLC numbers can be easily converted from your business’ existing landline number, so you don’t have to change to a new, unrecognizable number. 

  • You will improve deliverability and throughput
    Because 10DLC numbers are registered with carriers, your texting program will experience higher deliverability rates, won’t run the risk of terminated services by carriers, and have a higher SMS throughput.

What you need to know before getting started with 10DLC to protect your company

Before getting started with 10DLC, first determine if your business is eligible by familiarizing yourself with some of the most common use cases. Next, understand the costs that will be associated with 10DLC according to your carrier type, and how to avoid unwanted fines (see details below).

What are the use cases for 10DLC?

Here’s the general rule of thumb. You need a 10DLC number if your business sends more than 3,000 messages per day or uses more than 5 long code numbers for messaging to the U.S. Here are some other reasons your business would need 10DLC: 

  • You are sending automated confirmation texts, like after a customer places an order, confirms an appointment, or any timed text trigger.
  • You are sending promotional texts, like sale notifications, coupons, or sharing new product lines.
  • You are sending mass alerts, like messages to employees, patrons, or students to let them know about an unexpected change.
  • You are following up with customers, like asking how a service was automatically after an appointment.
  • You are responding to customers, like providing feedback or help. 

What are the costs of 10DLC and how can I avoid fines?

Below is a breakdown of the cost of 10DLC charged by carriers: 

  1. You’ll incur a registration fee based on your specific use case when you register your campaign.
  • Standard use case campaigns: $10 per month.
  • Low volume mixed use case campaigns: $2 per month.
  • Special charity/501(c)(3) and nonprofit campaigns: $5 per month.
  • Special: emergency services: $5 per month
  • Starter: 0$ per month
  1. You’ll incur a cost of each SMS, which for T-Mobile is $0.003 per SMS segment.
  2. You might incur unexpected costs, like an ad tax.

Since 10DLC regulations are in place to reduce spam and protect consumers, businesses that violate these rules can face fines that can be compounded. For example, T-Mobile clearly states in its Code of Conduct the following fines that can be costly, but easily avoided:

  • Text enablement is a $10,000 fine you can incur if T-Mobile receives a complaint that your business enables a 10-digit NANP telephone number and sends messages before being authorized.
  • 10DLC long code messaging program evasion is a $1,000 pass-through fine if your business is found to be “snowshoeing,” dynamic routing, or unauthorized number replacement.
  • A content violation is a $10,000 pass-through fee for every instance in which your business is reported violating T-Mobile’s Code of Conduct.

How to get started with 10DLC

To migrate your business’s A2P text messaging to 10DLC, you will have to complete the Campaign Registry’s verification process, which involves telling your carrier/network who you are and what type of message you want to send.

Step 1: Begin the registration process for 10DLC through the Campaign Registry’s website

You will need to share the following information about your business: 

  • Company Name
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Business Address
  • Website
  • Phone
  • Industry
  • Vertical
  • Contact Information

Once you're approved, you can start registering your text campaigns.

Step 2: Register your campaign(s) according to use case.

Do not forget to register your campaign. If you neglect to register your campaign:

  • You may be subjected to fines
  • You could end up banned by carriers
  • Your messages could be flagged
  • Your messages might not get delivered

Depending on your campaign, you will either need to register a standard use case or a special use case.

Standard Use Cases

Below you’ll find a list of standard use cases for registering a campaign.

  • 2FA: Two-factor authentication or account verification 
  • Account Notifications: Notifications regarding an account status or related to an account membership
  • Customer Care: customer support and interactions 
  • Delivery Notifications: status updates about deliveries
  • Fraud Alert Messaging: potential fraud activity updates
  • Higher Education: messaging from education institutions (ie. colleges and universities)
  • Marketing: messaging that delivers advertisements and promotions
  • Mixed: messaging that involves more than one use case, like marketing and customer care. *These campaigns might result in a lower throughput and a higher cost.
  • Polling and voting: messages seeking opinion through polling and voting, like customer feedback surveys. Not for political use.
  • Public Service Announcement: PSAs to garner attention about a subject \
  • Security Alert: Updates regarding a potentially compromised system, relating to software or hardware

Special Use Cases require subuses cases to further define the messaging. 

  • Agents, franchise, or local branches: brands with several agents, franchises, or offices in the one brand vertical but need their own local number per agent/location/office 
  • Charity / 501(c)(3) Nonprofit: registered charities that offer help and raise money for a cause
  • K-12 Education: K-12 school messaging platforms and remote learning
  • Proxy (formerly conversational): peer to peer group messaging in apps where numbers can remain anonymous with proxy/pooled numbers 
  • Emergency: notifications about national and regional emergencies, regarding public safety, health, disasters, conflicts, and pandemics.
  • Political: messaging designed to impact the opinions or decisions of a particular group 
  • Social: messaging between public figures or influencers and their audiences
  • Sweepstakes: messaging about gambling and sweepstakes 

More on Special Use Cases

It's worth mentioning that special use cases might have different messaging throughput than standard use cases. Take a look below:

See how the pricing varies for different special use cases:

Special use cases might require further vetting

The use case’s approval can depend on your carrier type. Special use cases might also only be available to certain business types. See this explained in the table below:

Need Support with 10DLC? 

Don’t worry, most people do. The steps you need to take to be 10DLC compliant are all a necessary part of protecting your customer communication. You can reach out to our team at Volt to ask questions and get help understanding what 10DLC means for your business. 

Just as US carriers have committed to creating a safer and more protected texting ecosystem, we have a vested interest in your business’ ability to thrive in that ecosystem. With more authentic and compliant business texting, we empower you to connect with customers 1-on-1, shorten sales cycles, increase conversion rates, and build lifelong customer relationships.

So, are you ready to make the jump to 10DLC? We’re here to coach you through it. Get in touch.