Short code

Short codes, or short numbers, are short digit sequences, significantly shorter than telephone numbers, that are used to address messages in the Multimedia Messaging System (MMS) and short message service (SMS) systems of mobile network operators. In addition to messaging, they may be used in abbreviated dialing.

Short codes are designed to be easier to read and remember than telephone numbers. Short codes 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 (used by multiple providers or carriers, U.S. inter-operator numbers are called common short codes).[1]

Short codes are widely used for value-added services such as charity donations, mobile services, ordering ringtones, and television program voting. Messages sent to a short code can be billed at a higher rate than a standard SMS 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.

Short codes and service identifiers (prefix)

Short codes are often associated with automated services. An automated program can handle the response and typically requires the sender to start the message with a command word or prefix. The service then responds to the command appropriately.

In ads or in other printed material where a provider has to provide both a prefix and the short code number, the advertisement will typically follow this format:

  • Example 1 - Long version: Text Football to 72404 for latest football news.
  • Example 2 - Short version: football@72404

Regional differences

Short Codes are five digits in length and start with 5, also are known as short codes for value added service.
Short codes are six or eight digits in length, starting with the prefix "19" followed by an additional four or six digits and two. Communications Alliance Ltd and WMC Global are responsible for governing premium and standard rate short codes in Australia. Transactional and Subscription services require a double sms MO opt-in or Web based opt-in with an MO reply.
Codes are five digits in length. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issues and controls short codes in Bangladesh.
Codes are four digits in length.
Codes are three digits in length.
Codes are five digits in length.
Short Codes are four digits in length and start with 1.
Canadian Common Short Codes can be five or six digits long. Common Short Codes beginning with a leading '4' are reserved for private use by wireless network operators. Four-digit Common Short Codes are not permitted due to handset incompatibilities. Short code-based messages vary between zero-rated (paid for by campaign), standard rate (user is responsible for standard carrier charges), and premium rate (varies, C$1-10). Canadian Short codes are governed by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.[2]
Codes are three and four digits in length.
Czech Republic
Messages sent to/from these short codes are known as Premium Rate SMS. Codes are seven digits in length for MO and five (not billed) or eight (billed) for MT direction, starting with nine, while two or three (depending on billing type=MO/MT) trailing digits express the price, e.g. SMS sent to 9090930 is billed for 30. Leading three digits are purpose type prefixes (908 for micro payments, 909 for adult content and 900 for everything else), digits at position four and five determines the service provider registered by a network operator. There are also other four digit shortcodes, used by a network operators for service only purposes (operator dependent)
Codes are four digits in length.
Dominican Republic
Codes are four or five digits in length.
European Union
Common EU-wide codes start with 11. Examples include: 118xxx - directory services, 116xxx - emergency helplines. This is in addition to the EU-wide emergency number 112.
Codes are four digits in length and start with 8, like 8xxx. Although the telecom sector in Ethiopia is controlled by the government, short code services are outsourced to the private sector. The short codes are used mostly for fundraising, lottery and polling.
Codes are five or more digits in length, usually five or six.
Codes are five digits in length. Starting digits define the cost of the service.
Codes are four or five digits in length.
Codes are five digits in length.
Codes are four or five digits in length.
There are many companies in the Indian market who rent keywords, on a monthly basis, whose characters, on a typical telephone keypad, represent short codes. Short codes are five digits in length and have to start with the digit '5'. The five digits can be extended by three digits further representing three additional characters. Texts sent to these Short Codes are commonly referred to as Premium Rate SMS Messages and cost around Rs 1 to Rs 3 per text depending on the operator as well as the service. Any length of full message can be sent, ranging from 100500 (some providers only support).
Codes are four digits in length with Rp2000 premium price.
Republic of Ireland
Short codes are five digits in length, and start with 5. The second digit generally indicates the maximum price, with 0 = completely free, 1 = standard text rate only, 3 = 0.60, and 7 having no maximum. Codes beginning 59 are ostensibly intended for adult services, but few if any of these codes are used.[3]
In Italy short codes have no fixed length, starting from three digits up to five. All short codes that start with the digit "4", are designated by a local telecommunications law for "network services". Widely known short codes are in the 48xxx range, commercial ringtones and mobile stuff download.
Korea, South
Codes are generally four to six digits in length, however short codes have no fixed length.
In Latvia short codes also have no fixed length, starting from three digits up to five. All 4 digit short codes that start with "118" or 5 digit short codes that start with "1184" are designated to information service providers.
In Lithuania short codes also have no fixed length, starting from three digits up to five. All short codes that start with the digit "1", are designated by a local telecommunications law for "network services".
Codes are five digits in length, start with "2" or "3", premium pricing from RM0.30 up to 10.00. Codes are MT billed so subscription services are allowed. Upon service description approval by mobile operators, dedicated codes are generally live in 4 weeks, and shared codes after 1 week.
Code are four keys digits in length.
Codes are three to four digits in length. Dialing short codes are generally 3 digits, and reserved for public services. SMS shortcodes are used for a range of purposes, and are four digits.
The Netherlands
Codes are four digits in length.
Codes are four to five digits in length.
Codes are four and five digits in length.
New Zealand
Codes are three and four digits in length.
Codes are three and four digits in length. Users are charged PKR 5 - PKR 25 per SMS sent on short codes. Mobile operators charge a setup fee, monthly fee and fee per keyword for short codes. Short codes usage must abide by the rules set by PTA (Pakistan Telecom Authority).
Codes are four digits in length.
Commercial codes are five digit long (1xxxx) and are reachable from both mobile and fixed networks. Calls to short codes - from any type of network - are routed based on the location of the number originating the call; hence, if wishing to reach a particular geographical area, the subscriber might need to prefix the short code with an appropriate area code.
Codes are four digits in length. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is a regulatory agency providing an environment that ensures reliable, affordable and viable infrastructure and services in information and communications technology (ICT) accessible to all.[4] Although the NTC is ultimately responsible for the governance of premium and non-premium shortcodes in the Philippines, the NTC's regulatory guidelines are not comprehensive when applied to shortcodes. Instead NTC's guidelines focus more on the carriers and the carrier's technical infrastructure. NTC's website does not contain any specific information with regard to premium SMS or standard rate SMS. There is relevant documentation for Bulk SMS and SPAM control via NTC's "AMENDMENT TO THE RULES AND REGULATIONS ON BROADCAST MESSAGING SERVICES", however again is not directly related to premium SMS.
Codes are four digits in length. The cost of the call or SMS to the short number varies from 1.2 to 300 rubles, depending on the number and the carrier.
Codes are four digits in length.
Codes are five digits in length.
South Africa
Codes are five digits in length. Short codes will start with either a "3" or "4". For example, 34001 or 42001. Each short code or short code range (a range will generally be 34000 to 34009) are assigned specific tariffs or end user prices (EUP). The tariff charges can range from R0.50 to R30.00 on mobile originated billing and from R0.50 to R50.00 using mobile terminated billing.[5][6] Due to high costs associated with short code rental many providers offer shared shortcodes, which greatly reduces costs.[7]
Codes are four digits in length.
Codes are five digits in length.
Codes are three to five digits in length (most popular codes are three digits long); codes starting with "6" are reserved for adult services.
Codes are usually four digits in length, starting with digits "19".
Codes are four digits in length.
United Kingdom
Codes are five digits in length, mostly starting with 6 or 8. Codes starting 70 are used by charities.[8] The range of codes may be expanded in time to use other leading digits such as 4. Adult related mobile services must use codes starting with 69 or 89. Mobile operators sometimes use proprietary codes (either with a different leading digit or shorter in length for their own use). SMS short codes are often owned by holding companies[9] who then lease them out to service providers and advertisers to promote SMS services, charitable fundraising and marketing promotions such as news alerts, voting and quizzes. Shortcodes can also be used to deliver additional content or a mobile URL link that when prompted opens the mobile web browser linking the user to a mobile web page. Premium SMS services use codes that can be set to deliver a charge to a participant's mobile phone (in accordance with the service provider's terms of service). Other codes (typically used by advertisers) can be free to receive “your standard rate applies” or free to send and receive. UK Premium rated SMS services are regulated by PhonepayPlus. All charges and associated terms linked to a premium code should be transparent to the consumer. To stop a subscription based shortcode service text the word 'STOP' to the shortcode number.
United States
As of May 31, 2006, the standard lengths for inter operable short codes are five and six digits.[10] Carriers use short codes with fewer digits for carrier-specific programs - e.g., "Text 611 to see how many minutes you have remaining on your plan." Codes starting with 1 are not permitted. Common short codes in the U.S. are leased by the program's registry service provider iconectiv, under a deal with the Common Short Code Administration and CTIA.[11] Short codes are leased at a price, with a selected code costing twice that of a random code.[11] Some carriers assign a subset of their carrier-specific codes to third parties.[12]

See also


  1. Neufeld, Evan. "Common Short Codes: Cracking The Mobile Marketing Code" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  2. "TXT Splash". Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  3. "Commission for Communications Regulation - RegTel Information". 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  4. "The National Telecommunications Commission Web Portal". Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  5. "WASPA Website". Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  6. "sms c.o.d.e.s". Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  7. "Shared Shortcodes".
  8. "". Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  9. "A Short Guide to a (UK) Short Code". 2009-03-11.
  10. "Common Short Code Administration Announces Open Registration of 6-Digit Codes". Press Release. CTIA. 2006-05-31.
  11. Alleven, Monica (2007-04-15). "Decoding Short Codes". WirelessWeek.
  12. "CTIA Announced New Strategic Partner iconectiv for Common Short Code Registry Services". CTIA – The Wireless Association. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
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