What are the Five Digit Cell Phone Numbers I have seen and how do I get one?


Non-Standard Cell Numbers are Called Short Codes

Have you ever seen a cell phone number advertised that did not have an area code and was shorter than typical phone numbers? If so you saw what is referred to in the telecommunication industry as a "short code" or a "short number". It is not hard to figure out where they got their name from. Typically short codes are five or six digits.

Short codes to my knowledge are currently only used to address mobile services. Short codes originate with the service provider so it is technically possible that the shortcode on Verizon could be different than AT&T however, there are "common short codes" that cross providers. There are also professionally courtesies in this area. That being said shortcodes are not shared internationally. So a short code in the US will be different than the same short code in Japan.

What are the benefits of short codes?

There are many reasons short codes exist but one of the main benefit is they are easier for consumers to remember! Many people have problems remember phone numbers with area codes. Some even have problems remembering birthdays that have less digits. So a 5 digit number is a great compromise! It is long enough to be unique but also short enough for the average person to remember. Many times short codes are made even easier to remember by associating the numbers with words or commonly used numbers such as the popular tv show 90210.

Having a shorter number also makes it easier for marketing because they reduce the character count for printed material (newspapers, etc) and take up less space. The same applies to billboards and signs. The fact they are easier to remember benefits signs because it makes them more effect when people are moving. Short codes are also perfect for radio advertisement instead of having to repeat a phone number multiple times!

Another major benefit of short codes is they allow businesses to connect with their customers where their eyes are, which is normally their cell phones! There are many statistics online about the explosion of the mobile phone industry. I will leave it to the reader to research. I think it is obvious to most people though that cell phones are everywhere! Just look around in big cities and you will see people looking at their phones instead of were they are walking (or sadly where they are driving). Also ask any teenager if they would rather talk to someone on the phone or send them a txt.

Short codes are easy to remember, market, and reach a wide / huge audience!

What are common usages of short codes?

Short codes make it easy to offer a wide variety of services to mobile users. Typically short codes are used in conjunction with Short Message Service (SMS) also known as txt'ing or texting.

A familiar usage of short codes is for voting in TV shows such as American Idol. Anyone that has watched the show knows that America is giving the option to vote for their favorite singer by calling a traditional phone number or by sending a text message to unique 900xx number that corresponds with the contestants.

The combination of short codes and keywords make the possibilities almost unlimited for businesses! An example of a popular service using short codes and keywords is the SMS relay lookup service provided by Google. If you send a txt to 466453 (Google) with a specified keyword (weather, movies, stocks, etc) and a search term a text message will be returned to your phone with the search results. Text "help" to 466453 to get a full list of available keywords.

Other examples of services that take advantage of short codes and keywords are: website updates (including hubs), drawings, instant promotions, mobile coupons, new house listings, price alerts, raffles, businesses cards, and the list goes on and on.

Will I be charged a hidden fee if I text a short code?

Contrary to what many people think, using a short code is normally free to the consumer. Typically businesses pay the up front costs for short codes and the consumer only pays what ever their wireless plan charges for texting. Many wireless carriers offer unlimited text messaging as part of their service or for a small monthly fee. Consumers need to be careful though because businesses could charge for their service. Businesses that charge a fee will normally advertise the fee and in many situations make the consumer acknowledge the charge. Using short codes is like using any other service you need to do some homework on the service you are going to use so you do not have any unforeseen charges.

How do I get a short code?

The Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) regulates and issues short codes. To obtain your own short code you need to first determine the availability of the code you desire. Many of the easy to remember codes are are already registered. You will then need to submit a campaign application that outlines the desired purpose and targeted audience and carrier. The cost of registration depends on the type of campaign and other specifics of the application. Once the short code has been obtained you will then need to have it hosted or provide server service. 

Instead of registering their own short code a more cost effect and easier way for businesses to capitalize in the mobile revolution is to purchase texting service from a company that already has a short code. Companies such as iZigg sell services that allow businesses and organizations to advertise their short codes with a custom keyword (e.g. Send "BusinessTXT" to 90210). The business then has access to the mobile users that txt'd the keyword and can send them messages automatically (SMS relay) or manually when the businesses has a special or update.

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Comments 1 comment

Cold 2 years ago


Found a free trial to a 5 digit short code. Have fun with it.

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