What is a "lookup" and what triggers one?

When you send a text message to one of your customers or users TextPower tries to make it as simple as possible.  You send it to us and we do the rest.  In reality, though, it's not simple at all as there are many steps along the way.  One of the key pieces of information required is knowing which carrier (AT&T, Verizon Wireless, etc.) provides the service for that number so that we can properly route the message to that carrier.  Without it there's no way for the message to reach its destination.
There are essentially two ways for TextPower to obtain the carrier to which that number is assigned.  If the user sends a text message to us with a keyword, for example, the carrier information is included in the contents of the message.  We capture that information and store it in our own database (technically called a "cache") so that when you later tell us to send a message to that number we have the information.  
If, on the other hand, you upload a list of numbers using, say our Communications Assurance Program (CAP) that facilitates an expedited means of getting tens of thousands of numbers in the database for your exclusive access, those numbers will not have the carrier information associated with them and so they will have to go through a "lookup" process.  
Virtually all of the cellular phone companies in the country participate in what is known as the National Cellular Database.  Even most rural cellular carriers and Google Voice numbers are available through this database.  This centralized and master compilation contains not only the number for every cell phone, it also has the information about which carrier services it.  The lookup process accesses this database and retrieves the carrier information.  At that point the information is stored in the cache and used in the same way that it is used when the information is obtained by the mobile user sending a text to our system.
There are a few occasions when, even though a mobile number is already in our cache - and there are literally millions in our cache - the carrier to which it is assigned is either incorrect or must be changed. The most common reason is that someone changes their service from, say, Verizon Wireless to AT&T, and so that routing information must be changed.  TextPower has a unique, proprietary process that assures delivery of messages; when we receive an error code telling us that the carrier for a particular number is incorrect we perform a lookup and then, when we have obtained the correct carrier information for that number, resend it.  This assures delivery of messages in a way that no other company can.  
These lookups cost money and so we are compelled to charge for them when they must be performed.  The good news for TextPower's customers is that, as the result of our own massive cache of numbers - which is always checked first before performing a lookup - the instances where a lookup is required is vastly reduced when compared to other company's systems.  Furthermore, the very small charge of $0.02/lookup when needed assures that your message is getting delivered.
And isn't that what you want when you send a message in the first place?
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