Short Codes, Text-Enabled Toll-Free Numbers and 10DLC Numbers

Not very long ago if you wanted to send a text message on an A2P (application-to-person) channel there was only one choice: a dedicated short code.  Then carriers began allowing users to share a short code using keywords, similar to how apartments are all numbered differently but share the same street address.  A few years ago the ability to text-enable a toll-free number (TFN) was allowed, making it possible to use a 10-digit number for automated sending.  Finally, a regular 10-digit number, such as that which you'd use for a business, was just recently upgraded to a "10DLC" status - a "10-digit dedicated long code" - that is carrier-sanctioned and offers many advantages.  

It would be logical to ask, "What's the difference between all of these different "codes" over which messages can be sent?"  And, if I'm already using a shared short code why should I consider migrating to a 10DLC (our recommended option)?  

Here are the basic reasons why 10DLC numbers are different than others and have become the most viable option for commercial use :

  • Shared short codes will no longer be supported by carriers.  AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all announced that any users currently sharing a short code will have to migrate to another solution. 
  • 10DLC numbers offer the fastest implementation of any permissible number.
  • 10DLC numbers offer a very low cost of implementation - just a fraction of a dedicated short code and about the same as a text-enabled toll-free number (which is still available but is not recommended as highly as a 10DLC number for reasons described below).
  • 10DLC numbers have the highest messages-per-second throughput of all methods other than a dedicated short code - and are almost equal to a dedicated short code, which is designed for high-speed throughput but comes at a significant cost disadvantage. 
  • Advanced approval of your use case by carriers, which means messages will almost never be labeled as spam (as long as you follow the rules) and blocked.  

Summary Chart:

Types of Numbers: Dedicated Short Code 10DLC  Text-enabled Toll-Free
Approved by carriers  
Setup time requirement 8-12 weeks 1-2 weeks 1-2 weeks
Virtually eliminates carrier audit risk     
Exclusively yours
High-speed throughput (1)  
Mission-critical infrastructure
Easy APIs and Development
Best options for marketing
Best options for mass alerts  
Best options for two-way communication  


Dedicated Short Codes

If you're currently using a dedicated short code, you don't have to read any further.  You already have the fastest, most reliable channel on which to send and receive your messages.  Short codes are approved by carriers to transmit commercial traffic and require strict adherence to compliance requirements by providers like TextPower.  Violations can result in the short code being blocked or revoked. TextPower handles all compliance issues for you and in the event of an audit by the number-controlling entity we work with you to resolve it quickly.  Audits occur if the user (you, the customer) do not comply with very specific rules about how the short code is advertised on your web site, what the responses to automated messages such as HELP and QUIT are, etc.  These rules can be tricky and TextPower helps you navigate them. 


Shared short codes offer all of the same advantages as a dedicated short code with a few restrictions.  A dedicated short code is like an address for your own house; you can modify the inside, paint it a different color or do what you want to it.  Shared short codes are like an apartment number in a building with one address.  You can change the inside of your apartment but you cannot modify the front door, the signage, the mailboxes, etc.  

More importantly, carriers have announced that they plan to stop supporting shared short codes soon.  This means that everyone using TextPower's 85700 or 81888 codes will have to get their own code of some kind or another.  Fortunately, we make this simple, inexpensive and easy.  It's practically transparent for you and will actually create a more familiar environment for your end users. 


10DLC numbers are, like short codes, approved by carriers, allow very high throughput compared to all other methods (except an actual short code) and rarely, if ever, experience blockages, violations of compliance, etc., because they are approved in advance by the carriers.  

TextPower takes your local number - such as the one you already have for reporting outages - and text-enables it with 10DLC.  Depending on your number and the provider we use it typically takes about a week to get it approved, and then becomes a "house" address.  You can change the messages such as the "universal" HELP response (which is the same for all users of a shared short code) and can pick any keywords you like because there are no other users of that shared short code who might have already reserved it.  

In short, 10DLC is the way to go for the future.  We strongly recommend it, we are experts at getting your number text-enabled and help you through the switch from your current number - whether it's a text-enabled toll-free number or a shared short code - to your own 10DLC number.  We will move all of your opt-ins, tags and keywords.  We'll even move your opt-outs so that if someone has opted out on your old number they won't get accidentally opted back in on the 10DLC.  

Text-enabled Toll-free Numbers

TextPower can text-enable your existing toll-free number or get a new one for you to use.  Enabling texting on your existing toll-free number does not affect the voice side of your capabilities at all - they are completely separate.  Text-enabled toll-free numbers (TFNs) don't have the same high-speed throughput as a 10DLC, and are substantially slower than a short code, but do offer the benefits of having a dedicated number.  There is a disadvantage to using a text-enabled toll-free number, however, that TextPower cannot overcome: Messages sent over a TFN can occasionally be categorized as "spam" by cellular carriers and thus be blocked when sent.  While there is a "Sender Verified" process that TextPower complies with for every TFN we issue this makes sending the message acceptable at the toll-free number vendor level but not necessarily at the carrier level. It is a subtle but important difference that makes using a TFN slightly less reliable than using a 10DLC.  


10DLC has all of the advantages of a short code - it's carrier-approved, has a high-throughput rate (messages sent per second) at significantly lower expense and shorter implementation cycles.  

  • If you are using a dedicated short code, stick with it.  
  • If you are using a shared short code you will have to migrate to another method sooner or later and we recommend using 10DLC.  
  • If you are using a text-enabled toll-free number you can stick with that if you want but migrating to a 10DLC offers the advantages of a carrier pre-approval of messages and faster throughput.  

These waters can be difficult to navigate so let us help you.  We will be glad to arrange a conversation with one of TextPower's executive team to guide you to the right decision.