How Text Message Marketing and Communications Innovation is Being Limited | TCPA MMA and CTIA

Text Messaging
Text Messaging

I am one of the founders and owners of a text message communications company that specializes in text message marketing at the local level using long code phone numbers.  We give businesses the ability to run legitimate, opt-in text message marketing campaigns using 10 digit phone numbers (long codes) that look just like your normal cell phone number.  These are different from the 5 and 6 digit short codes that you often see.

Right now the powers at be (carriers and government) are implementing strict rules on what must go into a text message that is sent by a machine to a person and they are doing it in the name of consumer protection.  The problem is that laws like the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have a very narrow view of how text messaging can be used to communicate with people.  And even more disturbing is that it’s giving lawyers more fodder to drum up frivolous lawsuits against companies that are trying to innovate in the world of text messaging.  It’s also going to open up lawsuits against small businesses that are trying to use a cost effective approach to communicating with their customers.

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and CTIA have long provided guidelines or best practices of the industry which have served the industry well for short code marketing, but they don’t take into consideration the small business and the long code market.   The carriers have limited the innovation around long codes even more by applying restrictions to long codes that short codes don’t have to adhere to, thus trying to force the industry into a monopoly.

The carriers have been tenacious with audits against long codes for ridiculous reasons such as the ratio of inbound messaging versus outbound messaging is not correct.  Yet, they choose to only enforce these standards on some customers, but not others.  We have governments, emergency organizations, and schools that rely on our service and their messages are sometimes blocked by carriers.

My company made a decision from the beginning to be ahead of compliancy at all times and to protect the end customer at all times, yet even we are having a tough time keeping up with the constant changes in the industry and attacks from the legal community.  We have some awesome ideas that we would like to deploy that would help both companies and individuals communicate but we have to be very cautions as any minor slip can result in a major lawsuit.

I caution the government, carriers and other organizations from trying to control the text messaging industry too much as it will only end up limiting the amount that innovators can do with this amazing technology and ultimately the amount of messages that are sent through the carriers.