Integration Basics

Message Originators

Message originator refers to the source number from which you send (and receive) messages. A message originator can be one of the following types:

  • Short codes
  • Virtual mobile numbers (VMNs), also known as long codes
  • Toll-free numbers (US/Canada only)
  • Landline numbers (US/Canada only)
  • Alphanumeric strings

Short codes

Short codes are usually used as message originators for marketing and retail use cases. For example, you might have a messaging campaign to give in-store customers a call-to-action that delivers a coupon or special offer to the customer. Short codes are national numbers only; end users outside the country the number is provisioned in will not be able to text the number.

  • US and Canada: All short codes are leased through the Common Short Code Association, or CSCA. OpenMarket can obtain short codes on your behalf and remind you when they need to be renewed. In order to start using a short code, you must provide a program brief to OpenMarket. We then work with mobile operators to secure their approval. The last step in provisioning a short code is to test it, and again, OpenMarket provides assistance in doing this. The average provisioning time for short codes is 4-8 weeks.
    Most US and Canadian short codes are between five to six digits, e.g. 222111; however there are exceptions to this, such as short code extensions.
  • UK: OpenMarket can obtain short codes on your behalf from the UK mobile operators. These can be either free or standard rate for end users to text in. In order to start using a short code, you must provide a program brief to OpenMarket, to ensure that no compliance issues will be encountered in future. The last step in provisioning a short code is to test it, and again, OpenMarket provides assistance in doing this. The average provisioning time for short codes is 4-8 weeks.
  • Rest of world: Speak to your OpenMarket account manager if you require a short code for another region.

Virtual mobile numbers (VMNs)

VMNs look just like a standard number to the end user and are often provisioned for two-way messaging. VMNs that are provisioned to receive MO messages can receive messages from end users within the target country and also globally — if the users are willing to pay for the international charge.

VMNs in the US and Canada follow the same number plan as the local area the phone was bought in; for example this New York number — 12515550123 — could be either a landline or a VMN. In comparison, in other regions, such as the UK, mobile phones have their own prefix and number pattern. Consult with your account manager if you need more information about how long codes work in a region you're not familiar with.

  • US: You can use VMNs to send and receive text messages for non-marketing use cases such as customer notifications and appointment reminders. VMNs have a lower throughput than short codes. If an end user calls a VMN, they receive a voice message explaining that the VMN cannot take voice calls.
    You will need to provide a program brief to OpenMarket as part of the provisioning process. As with short code messaging, this program brief is reviewed by the mobile operators. The average provisioning time for VMNs is one week. Note that US VMNs can only reach US end users, and not Canadian end users.
  • UK: You can use VMNs for any text messaging as long as you conform to the operator standards for opt-in and STOP messages. End users texting into the number are charged the same cost as for texting any other mobile number.
    In order to start using a VMN, you must provide a program brief to OpenMarket, to ensure that no compliance issues will be encountered in future. The average provisioning time for a VMN is one week, or up to four weeks if you require a number of VMNs. OpenMarket can help obtain VMNs on your behalf from the UK operators.
  • Rest of world: If you do wish to receive MO messages on a VMN then you will need to provision a number with the mobile operators. Speak to your OpenMarket account manager for more information about a specific region.

If you are planning only one-way messaging then consider using an alphanumeric string.

VMNs are also known as long codes in the US and Canada.

Toll-free and landline numbers

Available in the US and Canada.

You can use toll-free and landline numbers for both voice and text messaging. Your business can use an existing number or can obtain a new one. Provisioning involves enabling the number to send and receive text messages.

Note that messages sent to and from these types of numbers are charged as standard rate SMS to the end user. If you want FTEU messaging, you will need to use a short code.

You will need to provide OpenMarket with a program brief; however, this is not sent to the mobile operators (or any other third party) as part of provisioning. The average provisioning time for toll-free and landline numbers is 1-3 days.

To see the operators that support toll-free and landline numbers, see Mobile Operator IDs.

Alphanumeric strings

Available in all regions aside from the US and Canada.

If you are sending only one-way messages, then using an alphanumeric string enables you to brand your text message, making it easy for end users to identify your company as the sender. It also means that the end user won't respond to the message, as the handset (and most end users) knows it cannot reply to an alphanumeric string.

However, because a user can't respond, you do need to ensure that you also provide your end users with a way to opt out of receiving additional messages.

Generally mobile operators support all unaccented GSM characters, however, we recommend just using a-z, A-Z and 0-9 in your strings. Some operators will remove any white space in the originator.

If you do want to use accented GSM characters, then talk to OpenMarket Support first, to check whether the operators in the destination country will support them.