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SMS Glossary


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sms shortcode numberShortcode


A Shortcode is a 5-digit number (e.g., 87007), particularly used by corporations looking for a more professional alternative to a Virtual Mobile Number.


Shortcodes (also known as short numbers) are special telephone numbers, significantly shorter than full telephone numbers, that can be used to address SMS and MMS messages from certain service providers’ mobile phones or fixed phones.


There are two types of shortcode: dialing and messaging. The equivalent for voice calls is known as abbreviated dialing. Shortcodes are designed to be easier to read and remember than normal telephone numbers.


Like telephone numbers, shortcodes are unique to each operator at the technological level. Even so, providers generally have agreements to avoid overlaps. In some countries, such as the United States, some classes of numbers are inter-operator (U.S. inter-operator numbers are called common short codes).


Shortcodes are widely used for value-added services such as television programme voting, ordering ringtones, charity donations and mobile news and information services. Messages sent to a shortcode can be billed at a higher rate than a standard SMS message and may even subscribe a customer to a recurring monthly service that will be added to the customer’s mobile phone bill until the user texts, for example, the word “STOP” to terminate the service.


Shortcodes are often associated with automated services. An automated programme can handle the response and typically requires the sender to start the message with a keyword (command word), or prefix. The service then responds to the command appropriately.


SMS shortcodes are almost exclusively used in conjunction with keywords which define the nature of the received message. If you see a TV ad for personal injury lawyers it may display “Text PAIN to 87007 for more information”. That will lead to a phone call or text back to your mobile to give you more information on the service. You may see on an estate agent’s For Sale sign “Text PROPERTY123 to 87007 for details of this house”. That can cause you to receive a text back from the shortcode with basic details of the property. The possibilities are endless.


You can find more information on shortcodes and other inbound SMS options here.

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