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Comparing SMS Types: Short-Code vs Long Code (10DLC)

August 24, 2023

Comparing SMS Types: Short-Code vs Long Code (10DLC)

2 min read

When it comes to SMS campaigns, there are two main types of numbers you can use: short codes and long codes. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right one for your organization.

The best type of SMS number for your organization will depend on your specific needs and budget. Before we dive into the different types of numbers, there are a few questions that you need to answer:

  • What is your use case?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is your campaign size (how many messages do you plan to send)?

There will be a couple more questions along the way, but these are the starting points for understanding what type of number you will be using.

What is a Short Code?

Short codes are 5-6 digit numbers for high-throughput, two-way messaging.

The Main Benefits for Short Codes:

  • Quick Recognition: Short codes are, well, short, making them easy to remember.
  • Higher Throughput: Short codes are built to handle large volumes of messages in a short span of time. This makes them suitable for sending mass messages.

The Cons for Short Codes:

  • High Cost: Short codes can often be expensive to obtain and maintain. 
  • Long Set-Up: You also need to go through a vetting process with the carriers before you can get a short code. This process can take several weeks or even months.

What is a Long Code (10DLC)?

Long codes are 10-digit-long phone numbers, also called 10DLC. They are less expensive to obtain and maintain than short codes, and also used for two-way messaging.

The Main Benefits for Long Codes:

  • Personal Connection: Long codes facilitate more personal, peer-to-peer (P2P) conversations using a phone number that can use a local area code. 
  • Versatility: 10DLC can be used for a wide range of communication types, from appointment reminders and customer support to surveys and follow-ups.

The Cons for Long Codes:

  • Lower Throughput Rate: 10DLC does not have a high speed for sending large amounts of messages at once. 

Which is Right for Your Organization?

So, the million dollar question – which type of SMS number is right for your organization? 

The choice between short codes and long codes (10DLC) depends on your organization’s goals, budget, and target audience. 

Here is a chart breaking down all of the differences, uses, and features for short and long codes:

10DLC Short Code
Best use cases P2P Texting
Political Campaigns
PACs and Unions
National/Large Elections
Large Nonprofits/Unions
Commercial Marketing
Versatility Can be used for SMS, MMS, and voice calls Can be used for SMS and MMS messages
Send speed 4-25+/second based on brand and use case 100+/second
Volume Potentially some daily limits to T-mobile Unlimited
Deliverability Great Best
Delivery receipt Carrier Handset
Set up time From a few days up to a week depending on use case 8-12 weeks
Costs Minimal registration fees, moderate per-message fees High set up cost, short code leasings fees
-$500/month, low per-message fees, moderate carrier passthrough fees

SMS messaging is a versatile tool for organizations to connect with their contacts effectively. Whether you opt for short codes or long codes (10DLC), each option offers distinct advantages that cater to different communication needs.

If you are still unsure which type of SMS number is right for you, chat with one of’s SMS experts. They can help you assess your needs and recommend the best solution for your organization.

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