What Is A2P 10DLC Messaging?

Firstly, the acronym A2P 10DLC stands for;

  • A2P – Application 2 Person
  • 10DLC – 10 Digit Long Code

More simply, 10DLC just means a regular phone number.

What is A2P 10DLC used for? This is a new protocol that changes how businesses which utilize applications to send messages to communicate with individual phone users, have to go about doing just that. This is a recent change. It supersedes previous options of short codes and the standard 10DLC protocols. So, the way in which businesses and companies that send text messages (SMS) and also outbound MMS, is changing and there are new requirements.

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Female and male texting each other via mobile phone - A2P 10DLC update

Explainer Video: A2P 10DLC Messaging

So why has this change been made to text messaging protocol now? What does it mean for businesses, carriers and users? More on that below, in this excellent (less than 5 minute) explainer video from the Blue Collar Nerd.

Video transcript: What’s going on everybody? It’s Richard Kohberger here, the Blue Collar Nerd. So I have some complicated and arguably not great news for you. It involves congress and the FCC and mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T and you. It’s something called A2P 10DLC.

So what the heck is that? Well, 10DLC, that’s a 10-digit long code. It’s what non-telecom industry people and non-aliens would refer to as a regular phone number and A2P, that stands for “application to person”. So this is a new protocol that changes how businesses using some sort of application to communicate with individuals, with people, need to go about doing that.

So before this change, there were basically two routes that a company could use to send messages to its customers and we will think of them as like two roads. So one road was like a really major highway, like a paid turnpike and this turnpike was short codes. So if you’ve ever received a text message from a business that came from like a five to six-digit phone number, that message came from this highway.

Now the benefit of this big turnpike is that it’s huge. It was built for this. So companies will get really high throughput, meaning they could send lots and lots of messages all at one time without having to wait. It also offered really good deliverability rates. So there wasn’t a very high chance that a carrier like Verizon or AT&T would filter that message because messages coming down this highway were considered more reputable.

Now the downsides were that this highway, this turnpike was really expensive to use and you had to use these short codes, which weren’t very personal. A lot of companies, especially local companies prefer to use regular phone numbers that appear to be from the area. So for those reasons, many companies used the other road, the 10DLC road. But this road was not built for this. This road is more like a just regular suburban backroad. So that means worst deliverability rates. There was a higher chance of your message getting filtered, lower throughputs. You can’t send as many messages all at one time and because there was less of a process to get on this road, it meant that spammers were using it left and right.

OK. So talks about doing something about this problem started a while ago. I want to say around 2018. So congressional leaders and the FCC, they were looking at these phone providers, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and they were saying, “Hey guys. You kind of need to do something about this.” The carriers were like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t you worry about it, don’t you worry about it. We’re on it.”

Then some time would pass and the FCC and congress would be like, “Guys, we really need to do something about this,” and the carriers are going to be like, “Oh, that? Oh, yeah. We’re on that. Yeah. Don’t even worry about it. We’re going to take care of it.” So finally the FCC and the congressional leaders, they said, “Hey, do something about this or we’re going to be imposing a regulation.”

So this A2P 10DLC, this is the result of that. So the carriers have built a new road and it’s not quite as small and dinky as the suburban backroad but it’s not quite as big and expensive as the short code highway.

So how this works is there’s an initial registration process and registration fee. The registration fee is four bucks. It’s not a big deal. I should rephrase. It’s four bucks right now at 2:26 on June 8th of 2021. It could change. I’m just giving you the information that is here right now. So once your brand is registered, you will be assigned a reputation score and that score basically says that you’re legit. You’re a real company and you’re allowed to be sending text messages through this highway. Then after that, there’s a $10 per month fee to stay registered and then there’s a per text message surcharge and that surcharge is fractions of a penny.

Now a caveat is that surcharge, that per text message charge, it’s not universal. Different carriers charge differently and the charge comes from the receiving party’s carrier, meaning when you the business sends a text message, unless you happen to know that person’s phone carrier, you don’t know exactly how much that text message is going to cost. Pretty sick, right? I know.