Short Code FAQ  > What's the Difference Between Shared and Dedicated Short Codes?

What's the Difference Between Shared and Dedicated Short Codes?

SMS short codes were developed by wireless carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc.) as an alternative to regular 10-digit mobile phone numbers used by consumers. These SMS short codes were to be easier for consumers to read and remember, as they were 5-6 digits in-length. For more information on SMS short codes, click here.

In the mobile industry you'll regularly hear the term shared short code and dedicated short code. This is not to be confused with vanity short codes and non-vanity short codes.

A dedicated short code is a short code that is only used by one business. For example, Pizza Hut has the dedicated short code number 69488. This means that no other business can operate on Pizza Hut’s dedicated SMS short code number, because it’s dedicated to that specific business.

A shared SMS short code is a short code that is owned by one business, but this business doesn't use their short code to send text messages to their customers like Pizza Hut does. This business actually rents out their short code to various other businesses and organizations.

The reason many businesses and organizations use a shared SMS short code is the relatively low cost, compared to a dedicated short code. With a dedicated short code, the owner of a short code is responsible for the entire lease amount, which can be anywhere from $500-$1,000/month. With a shared short code, a business or organization can get access to a short code at a fraction of the cost of a dedicated short code. This is made possible as each business or organization using the shared short code is sharing the cost of that shared short code. Many shared short codes have thousands, or even tens of thousands of businesses and organizations all using the same short code at the same time. It's because of this that many shared short codes can be rented for a few dollars each month.

When it comes to text message marketing, most large brands such as Pizza Hut, Abercrombie & Fitch, AMC Theatres, Applebee’s, Baltimore Orioles, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bravo, Burger King, etc. have a dedicated SMS short code. The reason is because when a wireless carrier performs a short code audit, and a business or organization is using a shared short code in violation of the rules, the wireless carriers will suspend all text messaging traffic on the short code. This means that if brand A and B are using the same shared short code, and brand B is found to have violated the rules, both brand A and B will not be able to send or receive text messages on that shared short code.

When a shared short code is suspended, it can take up to a month for the wireless carriers to remove that suspension, depending on the severity of the violation. During the time a shared short code is suspended, no text messages can be sent or received on that shared short code.

With the majority of shared short codes being used by thousands, or even tens of thousands of businesses and organizations, it's become impossible to guarantee that all users of a shared short code are in compliance with the wireless carrier rules. It's because of this that the U.S. Short Code Directory can not ensure that when using a shared short code, that text messaging will not be interrupted due to another's misuse of the shared short code.

There are many more benefits to a dedicated short code, which can be found here.

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