The top-line? You can keep texting (including “cold”) but the future is uncertain. Want more details? That’s where things start to get confusing.
Read on to learn more and we’ll do our best to keep this up to date.
[Revised September 28, 2021]
What is 10DLC?
Wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, are trying to force traffic generated by organizations to register as a way to prevent spam text messages and unsolicited messaging, and to make it easier to hold senders accountable for texting.
10DLC stands for 10-Digit Long Code, which is the local phone number used when we launch texting campaigns. Wireless carriers are pushing all private entities, which includes nonprofits, campaigns, and 527 political organizations, to register their brand through the Campaign Registry for texting campaigns using long-codes (10DLC) starting October 1st.
Can I text contacts without “opt-in” on 10DLC?
Yes, you can. The issue is that texting with prior consent (“warm”) is a Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s (CTIA)’s — the wireless carrier industry association — best practice. But it doesn’t appear in any of the proposed fines and fees or new rules for 10DLC. There isn’t any new threat to “cold” texting from 10DLC – the system doesn’t track consent or require proof of opt-ins any differently than the current system. What’s new, the process for registering a brand and retaining a “trust score” provided by the carriers is a requirement (more below).
But Twilio, Hustle, or other services I use say I can’t text without opt-in. Can I?
While you can text, your service provider (“aggregators”, like Twilio and Bandwidth, or further downstream service providers like Hustle and Movement Labs) may tell you texting without opt-ins isn’t allowed. They are saying that they are choosing to follow the CTIA’s best practices. That’s fine for them, but if you are trying to reach unregistered voters, or encourage people to get a vaccine, or crush fascism via SMS, you may want to find another provider. Whether you want to use us or someone else, we can help with that.
Why isn’t there anything in writing saying I can cold text then?
In back-door conversations, senior folks at the relevant aggregators and carriers have said that nothing is changing for this 2021 election cycle. According to these sources, they are not targeting political/civic texting. And they are very afraid of facing negative publicity for the 10DLC roll-out. BUT, they are more concerned that publicly giving a “nod” to cold texting would create a world where businesses and malicious actors start to go wild.
Should I be worried that my trust score will get destroyed by sending cold texts?
There’s been little communication about what would negatively impact a trust score from the carriers or Campaign Registry, but it’s fair to assume that spam complaints or opt-out rates might do that. If you’re concerned about that, we are actually providing a service to folks to let them continue running their texts under OUR trust score. We’re taking on the risk for you, as long as you meet some basic conditions.
Are my texts going to start getting filtered more now?
It’s really hard to say. Folks at or close to the carriers have basically said if you haven’t been getting blocked in the past you won’t start to. But because carriers don’t give accurate reports of which messages they are filtering, a good approach to answer this question is to create a very large pool of people that you’ll text over many months. If you keep sending the same texts on a regular basis to a similar universe of people and see your response rate shift from a single carrier’s contacts, you are detecting filtration. We’re happy to share more about what we have learned on a call with you. It’s worth mentioning that Twilio and others claim 10DLC traffic will get you lower filtration, or that texting unregistered after October 1 risks heightened filtration.
Should I be worried about throughput limits?
The short answer is, probably not, at least not right now. T-Mobile, for example, has daily limits described below that would allow most folks to send, say, a half million texts a day. If you need more than that, you can apply for an exemption for a $5K AT&T does have message-per-second based limits that could be an issue if you’re sending >100k texts an hour. If you got a low vetting score (this used to be called “Trust Score”) then you may want to talk to us about texting under our Brand ID umbrella which is 75
Should I include “STOP to opt-out” in my texts?
During the 2020 election, there was a buzz that everyone needed to include this language in their cold texts. We tested this extensively. Results proved it didn’t help with filtration at all. It simply spiked our opt-out rates. We haven’t seen anything that suggests you need to include this language, but we’ll be continuing to test in 10DLC.
My lawyers are making us shut down our texting operation! What do I tell them?
Oh man, that really sucks. First off, you can tell them that two big developments have moved texting liability out of the legal arena and push back hard on them because of that.
You can remind them that Facebook vs. Duguid removed TCPA liability for texting and that the FCC recently redefined texting as an “information service”, rather than a “communications service” removing their jurisdiction over the issue. Those two things mean that the potential risks of texting aren’t legal, but they are related to fines and fees threatened by the carriers, or the terms of service in your texting provider.
If your lawyers aren’t interested in backing down, talk to us about signing a contract to take on your legal liability to make them comfortable. That’s right – Movement Labs is committed to helping progressive partners continue texting so much we are willing to pay any fees, legal or otherwise, that might arise in the course of your texting. Talk to us!
What information do I need to register my brand?
Here’s what you’ll need in order to register your brand for texting:
- Legal Company Name
- DBA or Brand Name (if different from legal name)
- Country of Registration
- What type of legal form is the organization?
- Tax Number/ID/EIN
- Vertical/Industry Type that best describes your organization.
- Contact Information: Email
- Contact Information: Phone
Your texting service provider (like us) should help you register, or you can use Twilio or another aggregator, or you should be able to go directly to The Campaign Registry.
If you are a federal 527, local, state, or national political campaign, candidate or committee then you’ll be heading to Campaign Verify to get a “token”. To get that token, you’ll need the individual listed on the FEC or other publicly available campaign finance filings to move this forward.
We’re a small organization sending less than 3,000 texts/day. Do I need to register my brand/organization?
If your organization does less than 3,000 texts per day, and you are not using more than five (5) phone numbers to send those texts, you are not required to register for your brand at this time.
Are there fines or fees if my organization does not register?
There are some scary looking fines! Specifically “evasion” and “text enablement” should scare anyone looking closely. Evasion is $1,000 but our sources have said it is only related to texting you REGISTER on 10DLC – essentially, if you’re using lots of campaigns/phone numbers on 10DLC to avoid spam filters they will be unhappy with you. Text Enablement looks like it refers to sending unregistered traffic, but according to our sources, this fine relates to systems much further in the back-end of sending texts that long pre-date 10DLC. Essentially, to actually get texts sent you need an ID with the carrier, and this fine applies if you don’t get the required verification before using that ID to send messages.
Initially, T-Mobile was increasing fees on each segment by a tenth of a cent, but they’ve pushed that deadline back indefinitely – we presume because they don’t have the technology ready to actually differentiate registered and unregistered traffic easily. Ok – so what we have is basically a lot of nothing here on fines and fees!
What are throughput caps and how does it affect our organization?
Throughput caps are the amount of text messages a particular brand can send daily (or per second to ATT phones). After October 1st, these will be heavily regulated by wireless companies. See the chart below for more information on what your type of organization should expect.
|Campaign Use Case||Eligible Org Types||AT&T MPS||Verizon MPS||T-Mobile MPS||T-Mobile Daily Caps|
|Standard||All||1-60 (Depends on Trust Score)||1-60 (Depends on Trust Score)||1-60 (Depends on Trust Score)||2k-200k
(Depends on Trust Score)
(Depends on Trust Score)
|501(c)(3) / Charity||501(c)(3)s||40||40||40||2k-200k
(Depends on Trust Score)
|Political||501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), 501(c)(6)||75||75||75||2k-200k
(Depends on Trust Score)
|527s, reporting entities||75||75||75||Unlimited
(CV Token Required)
Is 10DLC legal? Is this really happening?
The main problem as I see it is that even though the carriers are saying privately “don’t worry, we aren’t targeting political texting”, they are taking steps that would allow them to easily stop us from organizing or censor us – and some of the vendors they’ve engaged are actually connected to the Trump campaign!
The same FCC move that shifted texting away from their jurisdiction essentially gave carriers all the power to regulate texting and generate profits from it. BUT, right now there is no FCC chair, and there is some hope that when one is installed we may be able to make texts, like phones and doors, an open channel protected for political communication.
When 10DLC was supposed to launch in May it was stopped at the last minute – 2 days before the deadline. State Voices, Movement Cooperative and MoveOn are leading the Coalition for Open Messaging which is advocating against these changes and to protect texting.
We need to build power to be able to fight back and credibly threaten legislative action or FCC regulation if the carriers go too far or treat our organizing work unfairly. Join the Coalition to help us build that power.