Over the last year, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have made sweeping changes to the way SMS/MMS deliverability works on their networks and have dramatically increased both the costs of SMS delivery and the complexity in delivering those messages to consumers. These changes have become known to the industry as A2P 10DLC SMS or Application-To-Person Ten-Digit Long Code. All of this is intended to protect end users from SMS becoming the next major source of spam, and to prevent harsh FCC requirements around spam prevention with SMS/MMS. This fear was well described in this article featured recently in The Intercept.
DCS VoIP, Digital Communication Systems, LLC and DCS Group, has been intentionally quiet about upcoming changes related to SMS & MMS due to the dizzying amount of change that have been occurring in the SMS/MMS industry over the last year. We have not wanted to barrage you with interim updates, constantly changing SMS/MMS fees and penalties, or provide out-of-date, conflicting information until the industry at large settled down. Thus, Skyetel has been quietly paying all of our customer’s surcharges and traffic fees without passing those charges through to our customers; something we’ve done since they were first introduced.
At the heart of A2P 10DLC SMS, this is what you need to know:
- SMS/MMS usage fees are increasing
- You’ll need to register your Company Details with The Campaign Registry (and pay corresponding fees) before June 1, 2022. This is done using the following form HERE, and only takes a few minutes to complete.
- Sending SMS/MMS messages related to Sex, Hate Speech, Alcohol, Firearms, and/or Tobacco, is a violation of of the Wireless Carriers Guidelines, and can result in a $10,000 fine.
- There are new (well, not new, but much more enforced) guidelines for what content may be sent out through The DCS VoIP, Digital Communication Systems, LLC and DCS Group Network.
- If you only send SMS Messages on/to Canadian phone numbers, or only use Toll Free Numbers for SMS (which is our strong recommendation), then you could stop reading here. You are exempt from this.
Changes In Detail
Usage rates Industry-wide are increasing
The costs to send and receive an SMS or MMS is increasing. This is because the Mobile Network Carriers have begun adding surcharges to each SMS sent or received onto their networks. These surcharges range from $0.002 per SMS all the way up $0.10.
As an example, this is just what AT&T charges for its surcharges (other carriers have their own fees that get charged in addition to these):
The carrier surcharges have been changing almost monthly, with new delays, additions, subtractions, and other maddening inconsistencies.
These surcharges make it impossible for DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC to fairly reconcile our SMS costs with our customer’s SMS usage. This is because DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC receives this information in arrears (rather than in real time) and the data is not associated with who the sender or recipient was. Additionally, we regularly get “true-up” fees that impact our SMS/MMS costs on messages sent months ago due to the frequency of the changes.
Therefore, we decided to keep this simple, and simply absorb the fees on your behalf. In order to account for our increased costs, we are going to be resetting our SMS/MMS rates for all customers to the following:
SMS Inbound: $0.01 per SMS
SMS Outbound: $0.01 per SMS
MMS Inbound: $0.02 per MMS
MMS Outbound: $0.02 per MMS
Once the surcharge information is made available to us in real time, we will update our systems to include surcharges and revert all Skyetel customers to their previous rates.
Campaign Registry Requirements… and Fees
There are a myriad of registration and fees that vary by carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, etc). The Wireless Carriers and The Campaign Registry refer to registration as “Campaign Registration.” Each Campaign has a corresponding “Brand” registration requirements. Just like message surcharges, these fees are too complicated, and we are committed to making this as simple as possible.
For each of our customers (Tenants) who are sending SMS/MMS, you will need to pay a one-time registration fee and monthly fees thereafter. DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC has made it simple whereas you just have to register once.
One Time Registration Fee: $60
Monthly Registration Fee: $15
Other Requirements, Guidelines, and Potential Penalty Fees
The Mobile Carriers and the FCC maintain guidelines concerning appropriate messaging content. Users must avoid sending programmatic solicitous SMS with such subjects and or content. The industry-specific acronym S-H-A-F-T is a helpful reminder for content/subjects that must be avoided:
- Hate Speech
New non-compliance fees for violation of practices outlined out in T-Mobile’s Code of Conduct:
- Content Violation: There will be a $10,000 fee for each unique instance of the third or any subsequent notification of content violating the T-Mobile Code of Conduct involving the same content provider. This includes SHAFT (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco) violations, spam, phishing, and messaging that meets the Severity 0 violation threshold per the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook. (Basically, if T-Mobile tells you to stop sending naughty messages, and you don’t stop, you’ll have to deal with these fees).
- Text Enablement: There will be a $10,000 fee if T-Mobile receives a complaint that traffic is being sent prior to the program being fully approved. (This applies for cases where you have a use case that requires a special business review and instead of waiting for your approval, you send your messages anyway.)
- Grey Route: There will be a $10 fee per message if A2P messages are sent over P2P routes. (DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC does not offer P2P routes, so this should never be a problem for DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC customers.)
- 10DLC Long Code Messaging Program Evasion: There will be a $1,000 fee if a program is found to be using techniques such as snowshoeing, dynamic routing, or unauthorized number replacement. (Basically, if you are sending spam and are trying to get around registration by buying new numbers or using someone else’s phone numbers, you can get hit with these fees)
Special TCR Registration Fees
In addition to all of the aforementioned charges, the wireless carriers have added additional specialty charges that almost all DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC customers will never be charged. These fees will be passed along to you if they ever occur.
- NNID Registration – $2,000 One Time. (If you don’t know what a NNID is, you won’t have to worry about it.)
- Special Business Review – $5,000 One Time. (This is in cases where you need incredible volume (like Uber/Lyft volumes) or use proxy numbers.)
How can you avoid all of this?
Use Toll Free numbers for SMS. Seriously. You can send to any local number from a Toll Free number and avoid all of this entirely.
Who has to do this?
Unfortunately, the Mobile Carriers have not been clear about their expectations on who has to do this vs. who does not. So, there are no definitive answers for this. Further complicating matters is that it has been generally considered that Hobbyists and Small Businesses may be exempt from registering their SMS, but that could change. So our truest answer is “we don’t know.”
However, the fines for sending unregistered messages are so high, and so scary, that DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC has decided to enforce it across our entire network to protect our customers from accidentally incurring massive massive fees.
When do I have to do this?
Before June 1, 2022.
What happens if I don’t register my Phone Numbers?
DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC will restrict your ability to send SMS/MMS after that date.
Are other carriers doing this?
Yes, these are industry-wide changes and ALL carriers who offer SMS are required to conform and notify their customers accordingly. Many of DCS VoIP and Digital Communication Systems, LLC competitors simply dropped support for SMS entirely because of these changes.