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Shared short codes are going away. So how will this affect your business?

Image for Shared short codes are going away. So how will this affect your business?
4 min read | Lyrha Cabunilas wrote in blog on February 25, 2022

Did you know carriers will no longer support shared short codes or renew their leases for business messaging? So if your business is still sending text messages from a shared short code in the United States or in Canada, your sending will become disrupted by end of the year.

Here’s where you’ll get to know alternative sending ID options and see which one will best suit your business. 

First up, what’s a shared short code?

An SMS ‘short code’ is a 5-6 digit sender ID. Unlike a dedicated short code, a ‘shared short code’ can get used by multiple brands simultaneously. For each business to share the same 5-6 digits, it gets assigned by keywords of your choice. 

A building representation of shortcodes

For example, ten businesses may share an office building. They can also share a short code by each having a keyword associated with the level of the building they’re on. An SMS keyword may be PIZZA for a pizza business or LOVE for a dating service.

Why are shared short codes going away?

Since their inception, shared short code numbers have posed numerous risks and difficulties for carriers and businesses. Unfortunately, they’re easy for SMS scammers to take advantage of, which can ruin the reputation of the companies using them.

When a single business sends a broadcast that isn’t compliant, carriers may block that short code. This negatively impacts the other businesses sharing the code who are, in fact, following best practice. It also creates a bad customer experience, as their messages won’t get through.

Carriers also struggle with the vetting process. If anyone can join a shared short code, there’s a lack of visibility and accountability by businesses. When over 1,000 businesses can share one short code, this, unsurprisingly, makes it difficult for carriers to monitor.

Reminder: if you are currently using a dedicated short code, you aren’t affected.

What are the alternatives?

Businesses who are currently using shared short codes can now choose to move to one of three alternative options in the United States and Canada.

  1. Dedicated short codes are 5-6 digits long and belong to one business.
  2. 10-digit long codes look like an ordinary cell phone number but can now get used for business messaging (also known as A2P messaging).
  3. Toll-free numbers can be used for both texting and voice calls (if enabled).

Recommended reading: SMS long codes vs. short codes

This article:

  • Breaks each option down further.
  • Explain the pros and cons of each.
  • Gives you an idea of what the application process is like.

This infographic compares short and long codes, to help you decide which will be best for your business.

An infographic which compares toll-free numbers, 10-digit long codes, and short codes.

Take these 3 steps 

Now that you know your options, it’s a good idea to start moving as soon as possible. Here are three steps to take.

#1. Speak with your messaging provider

If you’re still unsure about whether you’re on a shared short code or which option to pick, chatting with your messaging provider will help. This will help pinpoint what options are best for you and advise on timings.

#2. Decide what’s right for your business

This may feel like a big decision to make, so it might help to hear other perspectives. Include other stakeholders in the process to help you decide.

#3. Get started on your application process

Once you’ve decided which sender ID you want to move forward with, get on to this, asap. Depending on your decision, the application and vetting process may take some time. For example, a TFN can take a few days, while dedicated short codes can take up to 12 weeks.

If you’d like to discuss ways we can help you with your business messaging needs, contact our team.

Find out more 

This article is not legal advice. MessageMedia will not be responsible for any reliance or action you take due to the content of this article.

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