In some respects, the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) is to Common Short Codes as ICAAN and Whois are to Domains. Common short codes are administered by the CSC Administration (CSCA) for wireless carriers. In addition, the CSCA oversees the CSC Registry, which provides the technical and operational aspects of CSC functions and maintains a single database of available, reserved, and registered CSCs.
With mobile messaging exploding, CSC’s are certain to become as valuable as URL’s. Businesses cannot buy short codes, rather they lease them for a specified period of time, and for a specific campaign type. Leases are offered at different prices fromt the four provider types (see below).
What is a Common Short Code (CSC)?
Common Short Codes (CSCs) are short numeric codes to which text messages can be sent from a mobile phone.
- They’re compatible across all participating carriers.
- CSCs are either five-digit or six-digit numbers.
- CSCs can be leased by anyone.
- USA CSC’s are not recognized by phones issued in other countries, which are developing their own CSC’s.
- Applications route all messages addressed to a registered CSC number from any and all wireless networks initiating a message.
- There are four (4) groups of companies that work together to bring CSCs to wireless subscribers; they include content providers , application providers , connectivity aggregators, and wireless service providers. Merchants lease short codes from a provider.
Should I lease my short code directly from the CSCA?
Not necessarily. If you’re ready to begin a campaign, research what solution you’ll be using for delivering and managing your SMS messages and payments first. They may offer a bundled package. If you’re not ready and have the funds to spare, you may want to reserve your short code to ensure availability when you need it.
501(c)(3) Non-profits must lease directly from the CSCA to be eligible for a 60% reduction in published rates.
How much does a short code lease cost? On the CSCA site 1/1/2012, registering and leasing a CSC costs $1,000 per month for each “Selected CSC” and $500 per month for each “Random CSC.” THESE FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE REGARDLESS OF WHETHER ANY WIRELESS CARRIER AGREES TO ACTIVATE YOUR CSC. The Registry must receive payment in full for the duration of the registration at the time your application is approved. The CSCA offers Registration Terms of 3 months, 6 months and one year. Because fees are due up front, if you register a Selected CSC for three months the cost is $3000.00, and Random CSC for three months is $1500.00.
Do I need to register a CSC for each type of campaign? Yes.
Are there discounts for charities? Yes, provided that all conditions of the Mobile Giving program are complied with. That includes donations only, no recurring billing, and not product sales.
More information about the Mobile Giving program.
Official Common Short Code (CSC) directory (links to CSCA) and information center.
Official CTIA Guidelines for Mobile Giving (links to CTIA PDF)