For many businesses with extensive SMS mailing lists, shared short codes have been an essential tool. Unlike dedicated short codes, which can cost upwards of $10,000 annually to rent, shared short codes represent a more affordable way of maintaining SMS lead generation efforts.

In the U.S., AT&T recently announced it would restrict shared short code traffic on its network beginning in February 2019 and other carriers in the U.S. and Canada are expected to enact similar policies within the year.

Is it Time to Say Goodbye to Shared Short Codes?

So far, only U.S. based carrier AT&T has officially announced its plans to end shared short codes, though industry insiders expect other carriers to enact similar policies. According to data from Statista, more than 156 million people subscribe to AT&T wireless services, making it an industry trendsetter.

Forward thinking businesses need to consider how they will adapt their SMS marketing strategies to this new paradigm. Shared short codes have been around for over 20 years, so it may take significant effort to adopt a new policy. Working with an SMS gateway provider can make this transition easier.

Shared short codes are responsible for the majority of SMS spam.Shared short codes are responsible for the majority of SMS spam.

Why is AT&T Stopping Shared Short Code Traffic?

Considering the success businesses have had with shared short codes, it may come as a surprise that major carriers would make a move to restrict their traffic. Unfortunately, the advantage that makes shared short codes so attractive also allows them to be exploited by bad actors.

A shared short code may be utilized by several distinct businesses, each with a unique set of keywords. When a user replies to the short code, the keyword determines which database the user is added to. If one business using the shared short code violates industry regulations, all businesses suffer the consequences. Because it's not fair to punish one business for the actions of another, carriers were put into a bind. Over recent years, it has become apparent that self-regulation is not the answer, and thus carriers have decided to abandon shared short codes in favor of options that are easier to manage and regulate.

What's Next?

When shared short codes go away, organizations will need to move fast to find a replacement solution. Acquiring a dedicated short code is certainly an option, albeit a more expensive one. Nevertheless, the extra spend does bring more features, compared with shared short codes. A dedicated number allows businesses to choose their own keywords, reach domestic and international customers and even access vanity numbers that are easier to remember.

Another potential solution is a 10-digit long code to send sanctioned A2P message traffic. Currently, Canadian carriers such as Bell, Rogers and Telus levy surcharge fees on this type of traffic. These charges are over and above transit fees paid to carriers, as well as aggregator charges.

With Canadian carriers expected to follow AT&T's lead in abandoning shared short codes, businesses will need to move quickly to find a replacement solution. Speak with an expert at Swift SMS Gateway to learn more about how to make the switch without losing momentum.