The Death Of The Short Code – Are We On The Verge Of Reviving The “Long Code?”

Group Texting, a company that does exactly what its name implies, published an interesting blog post recently entitled “The Death of the Short Code” in which it details the many disadvantages of short codes and how “long codes” — or so-called “virtual phone numbers” — overcome many of the barriers short codes present.

“The major wireless carriers came together in 2003 to create short codes to allow marketers to easily communicate with consumers. Since then text messaging has exploded in popularity. Short codes haven’t seen growth to match. Why? A long, opaque and expensive setup process prevents all but the largest brands from marketing to their customers with text messages,” the company explained in its post.  “Enter the long code: instant setup, affordable transparent pricing, and no one standing between your company and your customers. Short codes were supposed to bring mobile marketing to the masses. Long codes, virtual mobile phone numbers that can send and receive text messages stand ready to finally fulfill that promise.”

Put simply, “long codes” are basic ten-digit phone numbers that are connected to messaging gateways to send and receive text messages exactly the same way short codes do — without the long approval and provisioning processes.  The company notes that people who use VoIP providers like Google Voice can’t access short codes because of the underlying infrastructure, which isn’t the case with long codes, for example.  As the company puts it: “long codes just work.”

Another large barrier presented by short codes is the inherent vulnerability of being at the whims of the carriers.  We’ve covered numerous instances of carriers shutting down SMS campaigns or blocking short codes because they don’t agree with the content or the brands behind it.  Long codes, the company suggests, come with none of these roadblocks and offer numerous advantages such as:

  • Instant setup: Get going in less than 24 hours instead of 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Cut out the middlemen and save money: No aggregator fees and contracts, and no passed along short code leasing costs mean your campaign can be run at a fraction of the price of a short code campaign.
  • The widest coverage: If a customer can send and receive text messages you can reach them with a long code.
  • The fastest messaging throughput available. Send 5 messages/second with a single long code. Pool multiple long codes for unlimited throughput.

“Do you need to get going tomorrow, not twelve weeks from now? Do you have the patience to work through program briefs, reams of carrier regulations, and constantly changing MMA guidelines? Do you have $12,000 to spend over the next year? These are deal breakers for 99% of the businesses in America,” the company concludes in its post.  “The long code, a solution that has been with us since the beginning, is poised to kill the short code.”

What do you think?  Are you a marketer that’s tired of the short code processes?  Do you think long codes are the future of text-based mobile marketing?  Do you think short codes will ever die off?  Let us know your experiences and opinions…