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What is A2P SMS (application-to-person messaging)?

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Advanced SMS guides 3 min read | Amanda Ranville wrote in blog on March 8, 2021

(Updated May 2023)

If you’re a business wanting to send SMS, you may have come across acronyms like A2P and P2P. They can be a bit confusing and may sound like jargon. Yet understanding the differences between A2P and P2P is helpful for businesses.

Dive in to understand the best way to send messages for your business needs. If you are a visual learner, jump down to our handy infographic.

What application-to-person (A2P) means.

Application-To-Person (A2P) SMS refers to a software application, such as a mobile service provider, sending a message to mobile devices. An SMS gateway can send out thousands of messages per second to different phone numbers across the globe.

A2P messages are generally:

  • One-way or two-way
  • Automated or integrated into a CRM
  • Conversational, informational, or transactional

According to a recent report, A2P SMS marketing is projected to reach $86.7B by 2027. Currently, the market is valued at an estimated $65.7B.

What person-to-person (P2P) means.

Person-to-Person or Peer-to-Peer SMS is a basic text message exchange between two people using mobile phones and SIM cards.

Think of it this way: these are messages we exchange with our friends, colleagues, and family. For example, this could be a simple text message we send to our mom to check-in on how she’s doing.

P2P messages are generally:

  • Two-way
  • Used by individuals, not for commercial use
  • Conversational only


The significant difference between A2P and P2P messaging is often their purpose and send volume.

P2P messages are often used for personal reasons and between one sender and one recipient. A2P messages are often used for commercial or marketing purposes and can be sent to thousands of recipients at once.

Telecommunication providers built A2P SMS to allow for higher volume sends to meet large-scale business needs. Now that we know what these terms mean, let’s explore different ways to send A2P SMS.

What are the different ways to send A2P messages?

NOTE: To keep sending A2P messages, your business use case needs to have been approved by carriers. This just means you need to be upfront about what types of messages you’ll be sending and why. You’ll also need to follow compliance laws and regulations.

If your business chooses to send SMS through a mobile service provider, there are three sender IDs to choose from in the US and Canada. They are:

Each of these has different sending capabilities and application processes. To learn which option is best for you, check out this handy infographic.

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Here are 3 ways to use A2P messaging.

1. SMS marketing campaigns.

One of the most effective ways to engage with your customers is through SMS marketing campaigns.

2. Appointment reminder text messages.

Many service businesses utilize appointment reminders to ensure no-show attendance rates stay low and profits keep climbing.

3. Emergency notifications and alerts.

As we’ve seen over the past year, there has been a widespread uptake in the use of text messaging to alert patients, customers, and, in some cases, entire cities or countries about changing circumstances or immediate emergencies.

Get a visual breakdown of A2P messaging.

Dive into 2023 text messaging trends.

Learn more about how your customers want to hear from you and why they want to hear from you.

Ready to get started?

Understanding the basics behind A2P is a good start for businesses looking to dive into SMS.

If you’re ready to give it a crack, get a free trial. Or get in touch with our support team who can help you get set up with a business number.

Application-to-person SMS messages are sent from a mobile service provider to a mobile phone. The client sending the message might be a web-based platform or a dedicated application on a computer.
When sending A2P SMS messages, there are three types of sender IDs that you can use. These are:
  • 10-digit long code
  • Toll free numbers
  • Short codes
Learn about the pros and cons of each of these to figure out which will suit your business needs.
Application-to-person SMS is not available for just anyone to use. Businesses need to apply and gain approval.

Once approved, they need to be compliant with rules and regulations. This means stating the purpose of messaging very clearly and consistently adhere to the rules.

Learn about opt-in and opt-out rules.
Application-to-person SMS is a way for businesses to send mass SMS messages to many customers at once.

This is different from personal text messaging, otherwise known as peer-to-peer SMS. P2P SMS is typically used for personal reasons between just a few people.
The difference between application-to-person and peer-to-peer messaging is in their use case.

P2P messaging is typically used for personal communication between just a few people and is exchanged between mobile devices.

A2P messaging is typically for marketing and transactional messages from businesses to their customers. Thousands of messages can be sent at once from applications like web platforms.

A key difference between the two is that A2P messaging requires approval from mobile carriers first.

Ready to roll?

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