We want text messaging to remain a trusted form of communication. To support this goal, there are many systems in place to ensure a healthy text message ecosystem. This page will help you better understand how text messaging works.
The wireless industry classifies text messages into two categories, consumer and non-consumer messaging. Each of these types of messages has its own route on the T-Mobile network.
These types of messages are sent by individuals directly to other people from their handsets. Consumer messages travel through SPAM filtering systems meant to block non-consumer messages our subscribers did not request, especially those messages with fraudulent or other harmful intent.
All other messages are non-consumer messages. Examples of non-consumer messages include:
- Two-factor authentication codes
- Account notifications
- Marketing messages
- Billing related messages
- Messages with transportation and delivery services
- Political messages
For these messages to reach our customers they must be part of an approved campaign. They are subject to ongoing compliance and monitoring obligations. There is often a fee associated for those who want to deliver a non-consumer messaging campaign to our customers.
Aggregators are the gateway for non-consumer messaging traffic, not just on our network but on the networks of all mobile carriers in the United States. We contract with messaging aggregators across the industry that review and approve non-consumer messaging campaigns on behalf of their clients. In addition to the various legal and regulatory obligations applicable to non-consumer messaging, these aggregators must adhere to T-Mobile's Code of Conduct, as well as the wireless industry’s approved Messaging Principles and Best Practices so that they appropriately protect our customers and our network. These aggregators are responsible for reviewing the content of messaging campaigns as well as ensuring these campaigns remain compliant throughout the lifecycle. We refer to messaging campaigns submitted and approved in this manner as “sanctioned route” messaging. Approved messaging campaigns are not subject to SPAM filtering.
The most important step in running a non-consumer messaging campaign on sanctioned routes is to choose trusted aggregators. There are several options for non-consumer messaging traffic on sanctioned routes, including short codes, toll-free messaging, and as of Fall 2020, ten-digit long code or “10DLC” messaging.
Unfortunately, to avoid paying the business fees and following the compliance steps required for non-consumer messaging, some unscrupulous aggregators put non-consumer messaging into the consumer channel on “gray routes.” Businesses that unwittingly use grey-route for the delivery of their messages risk having their messages delayed or simply not delivered, as well as having their reputations and operations damaged.
We have long been an industry leader in fighting scammers and spammers. To protect our customers, we are taking steps to eliminate unsanctioned gray route traffic on our network. As the non-commercial messaging space continues to grow, we will continue to improve the messaging experience, while also maintaining the health of the messaging ecosystem
Short codes are 5 - 6 digit numbers that are used for texting only and are leased from the Short Code Registry. Toll-free is text enabling a toll-free number (8XX) that can be called or texted. All toll-free text messaging is administered through ZipWhip. Ten-digit Long Code, or 10DLC messaging, is enabling any phone number to be texted. Your aggregator can help walk you through specifics in more detail.
All non-consumer 10DLC messages sent prior to Fall 2020 were traveling the gray route, as the systems and sanctioned route to support 10DLC were not yet fully operational. Many aggregators have been working to transition their traffic to the newly established sanctioned route. The best way to learn your aggregator’s transition plans is to ask them directly.
T-Mobile's Code of Conduct has a list of prohibited content for non-consumer messaging campaigns. While illegal content will never be allowed, some campaigns do require additional review for evaluation of our exception process. If you’re looking to run a campaign with content that you are concerned may be prohibited, work with your aggregator to see if you are eligible for an approved exception. Please note that prohibitions are about content and not the nature of the organization running the message.
Only aggregators can connect directly to industry networks for non-consumer messaging. There are two reasons for this. First, non-consumer messaging campaigns often reach people across wireless providers and the aggregators maintain connections to all networks to have that reach for their clients. Second, non-consumer messaging campaigns have compliance obligations, and the aggregators help organizations navigate these requirements.
The e-mail to text gateway is a legacy system that may eventually be decommissioned in the future. It is designed for low volume consumer traffic only and cannot handle a significant volume of messages. For that reason, all non-consumer messaging is prohibited on the e-mail to text gateway, and even high volume consumer messaging may be blocked as it can impact the system's ability to handle messages for all customers. If you need to send non-consumer or high volume consumer messaging, please seek out an aggregator as their connections can handle these message volumes.
All entities that wish to send sanctioned 10DLC messaging traffic must be registered before their campaign messages will be approved for delivery on our network. If your aggregator is delivering traffic using sanctioned routes they will be aware of this registration process and will be able to provide you full registration details.
Non-consumer messaging travelling on the sanctioned route is not subject to filtering. But gray route messaging is subject to T-Mobile SPAM filtering.
The demand to use 10-digit numbers for non-consumer messaging is a relatively new phenomenon, and there was a significant amount of technical work to create the systems to support it. During 2020, all major wireless providers completed that technical work and testing.
You can find more information regarding non-consumer messaging on the wireless industry association’s website.
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