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

(Updated June 2022)

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 jargon. Yet understanding the differences between A2P and P2P is helpful for businesses.

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

What is Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS

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) SMS 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

SMS P2P vs A2P

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


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:

  • 10-digit long code
  • Toll-free numbers
  • Dedicated short code

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

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Top 3 use cases for A2P messaging

1. SMS marketing campaigns

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

Image of a mobile phone with an example marketing SMS

2. Appointment reminder text messages

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

Image of a phone showing an appointment reminder example SMS

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.

Image of a phone with an emergency weather notification example SMS
what is a2p messaging infographic updated

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.