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Apr 28, 2021

Shared short codes: Here today, gone tomorrow?

update-5238354_640

REMINDER: The information in this article is mainly for our U.S. PastorsLine partners.

Canadian partners: The mobile carriers, including our vendor, are in the process of setting up a system using verified, toll-free numbers to send bulk text messages. It would work in a similar way to how U.S. churches use the short code for their mass messaging needs. This verified, toll-free number will be valid for texting in Canada and the U.S. This should help with any filtering issues your are currently experiencing.

U.S. Pastorsline partners…

June 1, 2021 AT&T deadline: This has been removed. A new deadline is in the works which will give enough time for everyone to complete the registration process.

Additional filtering: In view of the point above, no additional filtering/blocking will occur until everyone who wants to register has done so.

Special use cases: Discussions continue regarding registration of organizations/entities in this category such as charities, social engagement groups, emergency services, etc.

Fees: At the moment, our vendor is working on the registration process involved in this major change. This most likely involve a registration fee. This is something we are still working through with our vendor. It might be a fee per campaign, per church, per number, etc. Once things are settled, we will discuss charging options with our partners.

There is a second group of fees which are additional to any registration fee. Every text which is sent is charged a carrier fee. These fees have already been applied by Verizon. AT&T will begin charging on May 1; T-Mobile & Sprint on June 1. PastorsLine plans to absorb these text charges in the short-term until things become more settled. So, for the moment, the monthly PastorsLine pricing will remain as is, not increase.

Once this situation is more-or-less finalized, we may need to re-evaluate our PastorsLine packages and what is offered. But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. In any case, we will ask for our partners’ feedback (you!)  before making any final decisions.

We think this could be a good win.
Currently, as you know, we need to use our PastorsLine short code (77411) to minimize carrier filtering when sending bulk messages. The A2P 10DLC option means that you will be able to use a regular, local phone number (your text-enabled landline or PastorsLine number) instead.

Just so you know, our PastorsLine short code + short code keywords will remain valid until further notice.

Also, the registration should reduce carrier filtering. Since you are “known” to the network, your messages should not be considered “spam”.

In addition, keywords will go back to being unlimited. At the moment with our shared short code, we have had to create a short code keyword reservation system. The new A2P 10DLC option means that each church can once again use their unique local long code to send mass messages with no (or minimal) carrier filtering.

 

The power of text marketing / bulk texting is known: 90% are read within the first 3 minutes. However, sending a bulk text using a local, 10-digit number has increasingly been met with carrier restrictions.

Since June 2019, we’ve been keeping you updated about changes to the way in which mobile carriers are treating bulk text messages. From that time, sparing no expense, we have been constantly adapting to ensure your messages are delivered.

The best solution during this time has been the shared short code we leased for our US clients though many churches would have preferred the personal unique, non-spammy-looking number that a local, 10-digit phone line provides. For all other countries, the alternative best option was a toll-free number.

Verizon was the first company to attempt to offer a way to send bulk messages through a local number. This happened in 2020. They routed all traffic from companies like ours via their Application to Person (A2P) protocol.

The full name for this protocol is A2P 10DLC: Application to Person (A2P) 10-digit long code (10DLC).

This solution only worked for Verizon phones for a small fee which we absorbed at that time. The process was simple, however, clearly, the carrier filtering would still occur on all other carriers in the US, CA etc and hence wasn’t a complete solution.

Now, it seems the industry (particularly AT&T) is on the move again and is now going to allow you to send bulk messages through the local, 10-digit number similar to what Verizon has done. This might be something many may welcome.

However, AT&T is now requiring a very specific A2P 10DLC opt-in process for all users, AND they are planning to introduce carrier filtering on the use of all shared short codes after June 1st, 2021.

Though the move to introduce A2P options is welcomed, their position of not supporting shared short codes has added some complications for us and for you.

Let’s discuss what’s happening, how we are preparing for this, and answer your top questions. We will also address a potential solution for our non-US church partners (E.g. Canadian, etc.).

Here’s what we will be telling you in this update:

What is changing now?

Is the PastorsLine short code a shared short code?

When is this all going to happen?

What is AT&T proposing as an alternative?

What about non-US church partners?

How will PastorsLine move to the A2P 10DLC system?

FAQs

 

What is changing now?

As you may have heard or gotten a text, AT&T is planning changes to how they handle messages sent via shared short codes. On the one hand, AT&T plans to add more restrictions and/or stop supporting the use of shared short codes. On the other, they plan to allow traffic via local 10-digit long numbers (10DLC) for those wishing to send mass messages without filtering.

 

Is the PastorsLine short code a shared short code?

Our PastorsLine 77411 short code is solely leased to our organization. In addition, we provision it to work for our clients only. Despite these two facts, it is our understanding that our use case would be classified as a shared short code. As a result, texts sent via this short code may be subjected to carrier filtering by AT&T and likely T-Mobile. (More information about T-Mobile as it comes.)

 

When is this all going to happen?

The date that AT&T set is June 1st, 2021. After this date, they will consider filtering traffic based on their internal machine learning. This doesn’t mean that short codes in general would stop working, but it means that they may filter out texts sent via a short code when it is considered shared. If you decided to purchase your own dedicated short code, it would work for you without any issues.

We do think that smaller companies like PastorsLine may fall under the radar and may not be affected by AT&T’s June 1st deadline, given our smaller use cases. However, we are planning to ensure we are compliant and allow you to access the alternative solutions.

We want you to know that we are on top of the situation and already working with our vendor to take the necessary steps to keep your texting flowing out and in.

 

What is AT&T proposing as an alternative?

AT&T will allow us as vendors—and you through us as church partners—to register your local, 10-digit, long code (the phone number you now have with PastorsLine) as an A2P 10DLC. Once registered, texts sent via such numbers would be subject to no carrier filtering (except in clear cases of abuse). See our FAQs below for more information.

As mentioned, Verizon has already routed SMS traffic as A2P and charges us (and you) an additional fee per text. Since it is just one carrier, PastorsLine initially absorbed these costs and continues to do so. This may change in the future (with advance notice of course) as we understand the final changes being worked out.

What about non-US church partners (like Canada)?

For non-US church partners, we already offer a 1-way reprocessing of failed messages via an internal toll-free number.

For Canadian partners, we plan to take this a step further, allowing you to use a verified, high-throughput, toll-free number. This special number can be used in two ways (see below) and should not be subject to filtering:

  • firstly, will continue to be used to reprocess messages if they are undelivered due to carrier filtering.
  • secondly, can be used to send messages in the first place. In this way, it would function like our current 77411 shared short code. In other words, every PastorsLine partner would be able to use as an alternative, the high throughput, toll-free number with their unique SCKs (short code keywords).

For Canada – Fido, Freedom, Rogers, Telus, and Videotron are now treating Toll-Free SMS as a valid A2P channel. This means Verified / High-Throughput Toll-Free SMS will actually allow for improved delivery quality toward these major Canadian networks. The carrier Bell isn’t expected to launch until later in the first half of this year (2021). Also, the MPS is maxed out at 50 for Canada.

We are still working on solutions for partners texting to countries outside the U.S. or Canada.

 

How will PastorsLine move to the A2P 10DLC system?

Again, nothing final, but here’s what it looks like at the moment.

Introduction

Verizon has already moved to A2P 10DLC numbers. AT&T is scheduled to adopt them soon. It is expected that others will follow suit.

Step 1

PastorsLine will register as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) through our vendor. This registration is scheduled to open on March 1, 2021. We will be known as the Primary Business Profile.

Step 2

Our vendor is working on an option for us to register your organization (you) under our umbrella registration. Each PastorsLine partner will be known as a Secondary Business Profile. Part of your profile will be the registration of your local, 10-digit number as an A2P 10DLC. This should happen before June 1st, 2021.

Step 3

After June 1st, your local, 10-digit number should be able to be used for bulk texting, knowing these texts will have minimal (or no) filtering by Verizon nor by AT&T. Based on our current notes, T-Mobile is planning on using a similar process as AT&T. We hope other companies come on board.

Again, we are keeping a very close eye on this unfolding situation.

This includes making sure that we are compliant, so you have access to the options available.

Keep checking this space for updates, but feel free to be in touch at any time with anything that is on your mind.

FAQs

What is the A2P 10DLC system?

These acronyms stand for Application to Person and 10 digit long code.

Application to Person (A2P)

The current definition of “application” is any text that is business-related. Examples of such texts are one-time passwords, marketing and advertising messages, meeting reminders, chatbot/virtual assistant communication, and notifications.

A “person” is considered to be the individual at the other end of the mobile phone number being used.

Different countries may have varying regulations regarding A2P texting.

10 digit long code (10 DLC)

This is the “regular” phone number we are all used to (the one you are currently using with PastorsLine): 3-digit area code + 7-digit number that would be registered to send A2P messaging.

 

Why are carriers moving to an A2P 10DLC system?

It all has to do with customer complaints of spam. The carriers are looking for a way to allow applications to send bulk texts AND reduce the number of spam messages sent without requiring the expense of a dedicated short code.

The carriers indicate that numbers registered as A2P 10DLC numbers will have a trust rating adding to their descriptions. This would impact how many messages you can send, etc.

Your trust rating can go up or down depending on how many complaints the carrier receives about text messages from your phone number. This is meant to keep the system honest and weed out base players.

 

Are there advantages/disadvantages?

Advantages

The A2P 10DLC system will offer a lower (to no) risk of carrier filtering and allow you to use local numbers people recognize to send mass messages. The challenges of using short code keywords will no longer be an issue.

Disadvantages

There could be a reduction in how quickly your texts are sent via the 10DLC. When using a short code, texts are sent at a rate of roughly 100/second. When sent via standard 10 digit numbers, rates could even be as low as about 1 SMS / second. To counter this, carriers are likely to offer an option for you to pay a higher rate to send more messages more quickly.

In addition, there will most likely be a registration fee to have your number classified as an A2P DLC. There may be monthly fees as well, but this is still being discussed by the carriers.

Lastly, short codes by their nature are easier to remember. Think about when you project it onto a screen during a sermon or event. We are exploring ways to provide the same ease with the 10-digit long code and will keep you posted.

 

Our church has several PastorsLine numbers. Do we have to register each one?

The reason you would register a phone number is to avoid carrier filtering when sending bulk texts.

Let’s say your church has two phone numbers. You only send bulk texts from one of them. So, only that number needs to be registered. If you want to send bulk texts from both numbers without worrying about carrier filtering, then both numbers need to be registered based on our current understanding. We are still exploring the details with our vendor, and they continue to discuss the impact of the changes with AT&T.

 

Can we still use the PastorsLine 77411 shared short code with AT&T after June 1?

We don’t have a final yes/no answer at the moment. Likely yes.

One of the main factors will be whether or not ALL the carriers are going to be increasing their filtering of (or stop supporting) shared short codes. If not, you might be able to continue to use the PastorsLine shared short code with those carriers.

 

Our church prefers using a short code. Can we buy our own?

Yes. Dedicated short codes should work as usual, including minimal carrier filtering. The issue is when the short code is shared.

The only drawback is that a dedicated short code is expensive. Costs range from $10-20,000 per year.

 

Will this new A2P 10DLC system have additional fees?

Carriers are discussing a registration fee per number. They are also speaking about a monthly usage fee. If this happens, it would also increase the cost per text as the carriers would be passing on a fee for this use (something Verizon already is already doing). At this time, we are not sure what that looks like as negotiations are  still taking place.

 

What if I already leased a premium short code keyword?

Here’s what we know at the moment. Our shared short code 77411 + your premium short code keyword(s) [SCKs] are still going to work with all the other carriers who are not moving to the A2P 10DLC system at this time.

With regard to AT&T, it may or may not work, may or may not be subjected to more filtering than now. AT&T have not finalized their decisions. So, we do not know if their June 1 deadline is “hard” or “soft”. “Hard” would mean their restrictions would be implemented right away. “Soft” would mean a more flexible timetable.

If you have a premium SCK which you really like, we suggest holding on to it after June 1 for a short period to see how things shake out.

In any case, our premium, short code keywords are billed monthly. You can cancel leasing your SCKs at any time.

 

What are high throughput, toll-free numbers?

These are toll-free numbers that have a higher than usual message rate per second. The starting rate is 25 MPS (messages per second). These special numbers can be used for both SMS and voice messages.

As we mentioned above, we plan to add one (1) PastorsLine, high throughput, toll-free number. This is especially relevant for our Canadia partners as a potential solution to their bulk texting and voice needs.

Our PastorsLine high throughput, toll-free number can be used in two ways.

First, it can be used to reprocess messages if they are undelivered due to carrier filtering.

Second, it can be used to send messages in the first place. In this way, it would function like our current 77411 shared short code. In other words, every PastorsLine partner would be able to use the high throughput, toll-free number with their unique SCKs (short code keywords).

At this time, as far as we know, such numbers will not work for partners texting to countries outside the U.S. or Canada. We are still working on solutions for partners texting to countries outside the U.S. or Canada.

 

Which pieces of information might our church need to prepare for this upcoming registration?

Below are the registration details which are being discussed. We suggest getting as much of this information organized as possible.

BUSINESS DETAILS

Business name: the name your church uses for government transactions

Physical address (street, city, state/province/region, postal/zip code, country)

Business type: non-profit, etc.

Status: private/public

Business registration number/Tax EIN & Type: if any

Industry: which category do you place your “business” in

Website URL

Regions of operation

 

POINTS OF CONTACT

Two authorized representatives with the following info:

Name

Email

Title

Phone number

Job position

 

Once again, keep checking back. We will update with changes/new information as soon as we can.

 

Mobile App, HUB, Forecast, texting, shortcode, SCK, longcode, sms, messages

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