Short Code | Mobile SMS Marketing – Help?

By WHAMmobile • September 23rd, 2009

So, you want to get a short code. Here is the scoop on what to expect, you may not need your own.

What exactly is a short code anyway?

If you haven’t seen these 4, 5, and 6 digit numbers bouncing across your TV screen, heard them radiating from your speakers, or seen them plastered on billboards as you wizz by, well…quite honestly, you don’t get out too much. It’s obvious these codes are everywhere as mobile marketing is a booming industry even in the midst of a challenging economy. So, what exactly are they and how do you get one?

Here comes a bit of telecom tech talk. Don’t be afraid, it’s not that complicated.

A short code is a short number, sometimes referred to as a short telephone number, which can be used to address SMS (short message service, ie text message) or MMS (multimedia message service, ie ringtones, downloads, etc.) from a mobile phone. Globally short codes vary from 3 to 6 digits but in the U.S. we primarily use 4, 5, and 6 digits. 4 digit short codes are largely reserved for carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc). These 4 digit codes are specific to a carrier and will only work on a specific carrier network. 5 and 6 digit short codes are most often used by aggregators such as MX Telecom and content providers such as WHAMmobile. These codes are certified on behalf of content providers by the carriers and used to deliver content from the provider cross-carrier.

Short Codes are leased via the CSCA (Common Short Code Administration). Cost for leasing a code is either $500/mo or $1000/ mo. The $1000/mo variety is called a vanity code because you choose the sequence of the 5 or 6 digit numbers from available codes. Non vanity codes, the $500/mo variety, are automatically assigned to you by the CSCA.

Examples of a vanity code: 444888, 555999, 12345

Examples of a non-vanity code: 76398, 23681, 795024

Once a code is leased it must then be certified by the carriers to deliver content across their network. To be honest the certification process can be a bit daunting and I encourage all to utilize a top tier aggregator or content provider to assist you. There will be an additional investment for certification usually starting at $2000, but again, I encourage all to utilize telecom professionals that understand this process.

Lastly, there is the issue of connectivity. It is important to note that once a code is leased and certified you must be connected to the carriers via an aggregator and additional ongoing investment is necessary. Monthly connectivity costs vary widely from aggregators and content providers based on the type of service(s) you want to offer.

So, in a nutshell, what can you expect? To manage a short code you will need to:

1. Lease it from the CSCA
2. Certifiy it with the carriers
3. Connect it to carrier networks via an aggregator or content provider

Wow, that seems like too much effort and investment. If that is what you are thinking, you are still in luck. Most all content providers have certified, cross-carrier short codes that you can utilize in your business. WHAMmobile and many other reputable content providers have helped countless businesses both big and small enter into the mobile age. Whether you need an affordable basic business package or a specific custom application there is a solution for you. Join the revolution and mobilize your business today.

Matthew Whitney
President / CEO


Also Check out for information about WHAMmobile and our SMS Short Code Solutions.



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