Mass Texting Changes in 2021 - Here’s Why:
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: May 08, 2021
cell phone provider logos showing mass texting changes in 2021

Carriers are Dramatically Changing the Way Businesses and Organizations Mass Text. Here’s What You Need to Know:

Is your business or organization texting? There are plenty of reasons why you should be. But if you’re one of the 39% of businesses and organizations that do text:

Regardless, phone carriers are banning shared short code texting and changing the way businesses and organizations text.

Which means...

Your texts could start going undelivered.

Or, worse yet…

Your business or organization’s phone number could get blacklisted (more on this later).

But, knowledge is power and we’ve got remedies.

In this article, we’ll explain what’s changing with text messaging in 2021. You’ll learn how these changes affect consumers, businesses, and organizations and what you can do about them.

We’ll cover:

  1. P2P consumer text messaging vs A2P business text messaging
  2. Frequently asked mass texting questions
  3. Top 5 rules for mass texting
  4. How to choose the best A2P mass texting service
  5. How to register a high-volume A2P 10DLC number to send mass texts

Read on for more.

Spam Restrictions and Consumer Protections Increase with Text Messaging in 2021

Text messaging has been around for some 30 years. But it's evolved dramatically since the first text was sent back in 1992. Today, some 96% of people text.

This makes text messaging one of the most widely adopted communication methods in the world.

As the world began to text, a big moment occurred in 1999. Phone carriers began introducing five and six-digit “short code” texting numbers for high-volume promotional text messaging.

The TV show, American Idol first popularized short codes with the first mass text-to-vote campaigns back in 2006.

However, as text messaging adoption continues to increase, so too do problems with spam messages and scams.

For the longest time, texts had a 3% spam rate compared to around 53% for email.

But spam rates and scams are on the rise.

As a response, carriers are stepping up their efforts to block malicious spam texts. Especially those related to phishing scams also known as smishing (SMS phishing).

These scams frequently include attempts to steal credit card information, social security numbers, and other personal information.


*Real phishing attempt

Increased protections are great news for consumers. But stricter carrier policies for bulk text messaging affect message delivery for honest businesses and organizations too.

Are Carriers Blocking Your Texts?

How can you know if the texts your business or organization send actually get delivered?

Like all types of online communication, there will always be people sending malicious messages. Just check your email spam folder to confirm this.

But just as email providers filter and block email messages, phone carriers also block certain text messages. This keeps spam from flooding the messaging app on your phone.

The best way to know if your texts are getting delivered is to learn the difference between business text messaging and consumer text messaging.

P2P Consumer Text Messaging vs A2P Business Text Messaging

Text messaging breaks down into two major categories. These are P2P text messaging for consumers and A2P text messaging for businesses and organizations.

What’s P2P SMS Text Messaging?

P2P stands for person-to-person or peer-to-peer text messaging. This is the normal texting (including group texts) you do with friends and family back and forth using your personal phone. Carriers aren’t dramatically changing their delivery standards for these types of messages in 2021. This is because P2P messages get sent and received in relatively low volumes.

What’s A2P SMS Text Messaging?

A2P (application-to-person) messaging refers to texts that get sent using text messaging software. These messages typically originate from a business or organization as drip campaigns. A2P messages include text alerts, two-factor authentication messages, sales and marketing promotional messages. They’re essentially any kind of message that originates from a mass texting service or software.

What’s the Difference Between P2P and A2P Text Messaging?

We’ve got a whole guide to A2P text messaging that explains the differences between P2P and A2P text messaging.

But what you really need to know is that A2P mass text messaging software provides some big advantages for businesses and organizations.

A2P texting software makes it easier to:

But the real benefit for businesses and organizations with A2P is the volume for bulk text messaging campaigns.

Which has led carriers to project that businesses and organizations will send 3.5 trillion A2P messages by 2023.

However, it’s going to get harder and more expensive for businesses and organizations to send bulk texts as traffic rises.
So starting in 2021, you’ll need a carrier verified A2P texting software to send mass text message campaigns.

Without a carrier’s blessing, your business or organization's texts run the risk of getting flagged as spam. This could then lead to your number getting blacklisted.

Frequently Asked Mass Texting Questions

What are Spam Messages?

Spam messages are unsolicited promotional or transactional messages sent in bulk. These messages sometimes ask recipients for information or money with malicious intent. Spam applies to any sort of communication platform such as email or text messaging.

Determining what is and isn’t spam can get a little subjective. But to combat spam messaging each carrier has adopted various risk or “trust score” assessments.

What is a Trust Score and How is it Calculated?

A trust score is a risk assessment. Carriers use it to determine if the texts you’re intending to send are potentially fraudulent, spam, etc.

Each major carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) have different methods of calculating these scores.

Messages with content pertaining to debt relief or auto warranties often receive high-risk scores. Carriers also sometimes consider messages with web links, images, or keywords like “Viagra”, “Percocet” or “Dilaudid” as high-risk.

Is There Any Way to Send Mass Texts for Free?

No, there’s no way to send mass texts for free. To send mass texts you’ll need a mass texting service. Mass texting services charge for specialty tools that make texting at scale easier.

How Expensive is it to Send Mass Texts?

It depends on what type of text messaging service you use. Short code texting services can cost thousands of dollars and they take months to get set up. Toll-Free and 10DLC numbers are much more accessible and tend to cost far less.

Can I Send Mass Texts From My Phone?

You can’t send a mass text message using your phone’s native text messaging app. Sending mass texts from your phone can only be accomplished through a mass texting service. All carriers limit the throughput or number of texts you can send. If you use A2P (application to person) messaging, the messaging throughput is much higher.

How to Send Mass Texts Legally in 2021

For starters, it’s totally legal to send mass text message blasts. That doesn’t change in 2021. But the best way to run a mass texting campaign and guarantee message delivery is to:

  1. Follow our top 5 rules for mass texting.
  2. Select a high-volume A2P texting provider.

Top 5 Rules for Mass Texting

1. Avoid Sending Messages with “Spammy” Content

There are a lot of words that are consistently used in fraudulent texting campaigns. You’ll want to avoid using them so you don’t get flagged.

Some of these words and phrases include:

  • Eliminate debt
  • Free gift
  • Lower your mortgage rate
  • Warranty
  • You have been selected

2. Follow TCPA Text Messaging Guidelines

The FCC regulates texting and businesses and organizations aren’t exempt. This is especially true when it comes to SMS marketing and promotional messages.

The Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) outlines the FCC’s boundaries, restrictions, and policies regarding business text messaging.

But all you need to know is that there are three different levels of consent (implied, expressed, and expressed written). Each applies to all forms of text messaging. The level of consent you have from your contacts determines the kinds of messages you can send to them.

You’ll also need a way to opt-out of text messaging from your business by texting STOP.

Some text messaging services like MessageDesk will even manage and automate this process for you. They’ll keep track of who opts-in and out of your text messaging.

For the complete guide to TCPA compliance, check out our TCPA Compliance Checklist and Guide.

Suggested Article: TCPA Compliance Guide and Checklist

3. Watch Your Volume and Frequency

If you aren’t registered for high-volume A2P texting, then you’ll need to keep your messaging frequency low. Without A2P, you're limited to sending roughly 1 text message per second.

Since P2P is intended for a personal conversation, the volume of personal messages is low anyways. Sending out a text blast to 250+ people means your delivery rate will fall.

We recommend keeping your bulk texts to a maximum of 50 people if you’re not registered for high-volume A2P text messaging.

4. Mind Your Links

The links you attach to your texts matter. Hyperlinks have a high fraud risk and frequently get flagged by carriers. So be careful of the types of links you send.

5. Use a Carrier Respected, High-Volume, A2P Mass Texting Service

Bottom line, the best way to ensure your texts get delivered is to register for A2P. With A2P you:

  • Can send texts in high volumes.
  • Send media and other attachments without fear of your texts going undelivered.
  • Get 100% delivery with up to a 98% open rate.
  • Have more opportunities to start conversations with customers and clients.
  • Provide two-way conversational customer service.

How to Choose the Best A2P Mass Texting Service

Mass texting services offer three types of phone numbers that you can use for A2P (Application-to-Person) text messaging:

  • Short codes
  • Toll-Free 800 phone numbers
  • 10 digit long codes (10DLC)

Toll-Free vs. Short Codes vs. 10-Digit Long Codes (10DLC)

Short Codes Toll-Free Numbers 10-Digit Long Codes
Local area code no no yes
Unique number no no yes
Supports two-way conversational messaging no yes yes
Available to small and medium-sized businesses and organizations no yes yes
Carrier support moving into 2021 limited yes yes
Cost $$$ $$ $

Short Codes

SMS short codes were at one point the only way to send high volumes of text messages. But this is changing rapidly.

This is good news because short codes are expensive to register and relatively inaccessible. Plus, they don’t allow for two-way conversational text messaging - only one-way text blasts.

To get around costs and limitations, many businesses and organizations have opted for shared short codes. But back in October 2018, AT&T told A2P partners they would stop activating any new shared short codes. They also announced that support for existing shared short code texting would stop in the future.

Now, as of March 2021 both AT&T and T-Mobile prohibit shared short codes. Verizon and other major carriers are expected to follow.

Businesses and organizations do have a grace period. But in 2021 they will need to move to approved 10DLC (ten-digit long codes) or dedicated short codes.

Toll-Free Messaging

Toll-Free numbers are another way that you can send high-volume A2P texts for your business or organization. They look similar to 10-digit long codes, but most toll-free numbers come with a 1 (800) prefix.

There aren’t any serious downsides to toll-free numbers. They’re just not personalized or unique to your business or organization.

10-Digit Long Codes

10-digit long codes (10DLC) are becoming the preferred way to send high-volume A2P text messages. They’ve long been the favorite for businesses and organizations but now they’re getting an upgrade.

Of the businesses that text, 65% of already use 10-digit long codes. This is because they’re cheaper and more accessible for small and medium-sized businesses and organizations.

10-digit long codes have long been used as local phone numbers for P2P (person-to-person) text messaging. But the big change is that carriers are now starting to allow these normal phone numbers to send and receive high volumes of A2P text messages.

This means your business or organization can keep the same phone number you already use.

Keep in mind that this type of high-volume A2P 10DLC is brand new. MessageDesk is one of the few mass texting services that makes this kind of texting accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.

How to Register a High-Volume A2P 10DLC Number to Send Mass Texts

You‘ll need to register your A2P number after you’ve selected a mass text messaging service (like MessageDesk).

The best mass texting services will work on your behalf. They’ll help you register your business or organization’s brands and campaigns with a reputation authority manager like Campaign Registry.

You can begin uploading contact lists and sending SMS messages once your registration is successful.

Ready to start texting your customers with A2P? MessageDesk is here to help with smarter, simpler text messaging for businesses and organizations of all sizes.

Visit our learning center for information on how to get started with MessageDesk. You’ll find a quick start guide to texting, a features overview, and an explanation of what MessageDesk is.

You’ll also want to check out our list of free SMS text message templates. Just copy and paste to start texting.

Finally, feel free to start a free MesageDesk trial.

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