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Update on Shared Shortcodes

  • Written By: Michael Lepinay
  • Posted: May 17th 2021

You may have heard that shared shortcodes are being terminated by wireless carriers on June 1st, 2021. The fact is, that is not happening.

While there are changes coming to the messaging ecosystem, we have direct confirmation from our aggregators and carrier partners, the most reliable source of information, that there is currently no hard shut-off date for shared shortcodes. We’ve been in the text messaging space for nearly 11 years, and our aggregators and carrier partners have consistently provided us reliable and accurate information.

Due to changes in the text messaging ecosystem, it is possible that shared shortcodes will be discontinued at some point in the future. However, if that happens, and the wireless carriers give us a definite shut-off date, Clearstream will give ample notice and will slowly migrate churches using shared shortcodes to other types of numbers.

A quick note to customers using dedicated shortcodes with Clearstream: these changes do not and almost certainly never will affect dedicated shortcodes, as they’re seen as the industry gold-standard for texting. If you’re a larger church, we always recommend having your own dedicated shortcode. Clearstream is a vetted top application provider with the U.S. Short Code Registry, and can quickly set one up for your church. Learn about dedicated shortcodes and their costs here.

Our Commitment

Clearstream is committed to helping churches reliably communicate with their people via text message. We have and will continue to offer access to every type of carrier-approved texting number available: shared shortcodes; dedicated shortcodes; 10-digit local numbers; and toll-free numbers.

Our primary concern in navigating any potential carrier changes is to ensure that churches who trust Clearstream as their texting provider always have access to the fastest and most reliable texting solutions.

State of the Texting Industry

In the world of U.S.-based text messaging, there are four types of numbers:

  1. Shared shortcodes (5-digit number shared by multiple organizations)
  2. Dedicated shortcodes (5-digit number used only by one organization)
  3. 10-digit local phone numbers (e.g. 580-309-5902)
  4. Toll-free numbers (e.g. 877-xxx-xxxx)

Here at Clearstream, we’ve always offered all four, with the large majority of texting happening on shared and dedicated shortcodes. Shortcodes are carrier-approved 5 or 6-digit numbers meant for mass texting. They provide high throughput (300 messages per second), minimal carrier filtering, and high deliverability. 10-digit local phone numbers have previously only been approved for one-on-one texting, with very low throughput (1 message per second), and are subject to heavy carrier filtering. Wireless carriers intentionally do this as a way to control/prevent spam.

Over the years, wireless carriers have made many efforts with varying levels of success to curb text spam, which we all hate. Some of those efforts have addressed spam that comes from bad actors who use a shared shortcode for text spam and phishing.

The biggest change taking place right now in the text messaging ecosystem is the introduction of A2P 10DLC (Application-to-Person 10-Digit Local Numbers). Essentially, wireless carriers will start to allow verified organizations to register their 10-digit local phone numbers and send text messages with higher throughput and better deliverability. We’re currently testing and will provide this capability as it becomes available on all wireless carriers.

In conjunction with this change, T-Mobile updated their Commercial Messaging Code of Conduct late last year (2020) stating that number sharing was no longer allowed. This of course applies to shared shortcodes. They stated that this change would take place once A2P 10DLC became available as an alternative. Other carriers such as AT&T have made similar announcements.

Unfortunately, some of these announced changes have caused confusion. You’ve likely heard conflicting information from different sources. The fact is, a lot is in flux. Up to this point, we’ve stayed mostly silent on the issue, as each month brings new updates from carriers, and we don’t want to be inaccurate or add to the confusion.

Clearstream has a unique vantage point of using multiple aggregators to connect with wireless carriers. As a result, we get wireless carrier updates and information first-hand, from multiple sources. Over the years, and now specifically the past six months, our aggregators have confirmed that there is not going to be a hard shut-off date for shared shortcodes. Furthermore, Clearstream has already received confirmation from some wireless carriers that we will be able to continue providing shared shortcode service to our churches. However, we’ve not yet received the same confirmation from T-Mobile, in the event they actually do discontinue shared shortcode support across the board.

In summary, improved deliverability on 10-digit local numbers is coming, and shared shortcodes may continue to be an option for churches. If at some point in the future we are required to move traffic off of shared shortcodes, Clearstream will give ample time for churches to migrate to other types of numbers.

Our Plan

  • For the time being, you can continue using shortcodes, local numbers, and toll-free numbers. There are no immediate changes required.
  • We will be expanding local and toll-free number functionality, such as allowing you to share a single local or toll-free number across all your subaccounts and choose which number to use when sending an outgoing message.
  • As soon as A2P 10DLC become available, we will allow you to register your local phone numbers, which will provide higher throughput and better deliverability than what 10-digit longcodes currently offer.
  • If at any point our carrier partners notify us that we must migrate traffic off of our shared shortcodes, we will provide plenty of advanced notice to ensure a smooth transition.

Our goal is to communicate clearly and accurately in an ever-evolving messaging ecosystem. If you have any questions, please reach out via live chat or email. Our support team is very responsive and knowledgable.

– Michael, co-founder and COO

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