Messaging • Last Updated 10/5/2023

Toll-free text messaging: Register and verify with ease

Telnyx makes toll-free SMS (text messaging) easy with our new-to-industry API and Portal registration functionality.


By Emily Bowen

person using toll-free SMS graphic

Until now, mandatory toll-free messaging registration was an unwieldy manual process: customers had to fill out pages of physical documentation for each request. We’re proud to lead the industry by offering a brand-new functionality that makes it easy to submit a toll-free SMS registration request. At Telnyx, we're always looking for ways to make it easier for you to use messaging and build personalized, integrated experiences for your customers. That's why we're excited to announce that our toll-free SMS customers can now register and verify for SMS purposes using our API or Mission Control Portal. This functionality makes it easier to work with toll-free SMS and integrate two-way messaging into customer experiences.

What is toll-free SMS (text messaging)?

Toll-free SMS numbers support two-way messages and have distinct three-digit codes (e.g., 800, 888). In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigns and regulates the use of toll-free numbers.

Toll-free numbers have a higher throughput rate than long codes but a lower rate compared to short codes. As such, they’re commonly used in mid-scale marketing, sales, customer support and notifications. With toll-free SMS, it’s possible for businesses to engage in two-way conversations with customers in real time—just like on live chat or over the phone.

Toll-free SMS: A history, and how it works

To better explain toll-free SMS, some experts from Telnyx conducted a webinar covering:

  • A brief historical overview
  • Benefits and drawbacks
  • Common use cases
  • How to implement and verify your toll-free SMS numbers

You can watch the full webinar here or read on to learn more about toll-free SMS.

The history of toll-free SMS

Toll-free SMS has been around since the early 2000s when it was first introduced as a way for businesses to communicate with their customers via text message. In the early days of this service, businesses had to manually register their numbers with carriers—a process that was both time-consuming and expensive.

In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its first regulations governing the use of toll-free SMS, setting limits on how many texts could be sent in a given period of time and requiring businesses to register their numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry. These regulations allowed consumers to opt out of receiving text messages from businesses and helped prevent businesses from spamming customers with unwanted messages.

Since then, the use of toll-free SMS has grown exponentially—you can now text-enable any toll-free number in the U.S. or Canada.

Benefits and drawbacks of toll-free SMS

Toll-free SMS is an ideal option for businesses looking to send messages quickly and at high volumes.

It eliminates the need for separate registration—such as is required for 10DLC—and offers straightforward pricing, so you know exactly what you’re paying for. Although it’s slightly more costly compared to other number types, toll-free SMS offers true delivery status with delivery receipts (DLRs)—often called handset receipts—so you have the assurance of knowing that your message was delivered. Additionally, there's no need to acquire a new phone number when using toll-free SMS, and registration with Telnyx is simple.

Toll-free SMS provides a reliable experience (however, it’s only available to customers in the U.S. and Canada). Customers have the ability to opt out of communications and call or text the same number—which can be helpful if they need to escalate an issue. Toll-free SMS numbers are also easy to recognize as belonging to a business or brand.

However, toll-free SMS is not a great option for businesses with international use cases or lots of global communications, as it is only available in the U.S. and Canada—that means you might not be able to send SMS messages to some of your customers.

Furthermore, there are some content and use case restrictions put in place by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the FCC that limit what you can do with your messages. For example, due to bad actors, the below content is forbidden over toll-free SMS:

  • High-risk financial services
  • Get-rich-quick schemes
  • Debt forgiveness
  • Age-gated substances or illegal drugs
  • Fraud
  • Phishing
  • Profanity or hate speech
  • Sexual content

Finally, throughput limits for toll-free text messages may vary depending on the carrier.

Common toll-free SMS use cases

Toll-free SMS allows businesses to reach their customers in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It can be leveraged for a variety of use cases across industries, including security, reminders and notifications, account management and customer service.

Security: Businesses can use toll-free SMS to verify users’ identities through two-factor authentication (2FA). Verification can help businesses ensure that customers are who they say they are, which improves security and prevents fraud.

Reminders and notifications: Sending important reminders and notifications—such as appointment reminders, order status or tracking, facility closures and prescription refill reminders—with toll-free SMS can help businesses reduce no-shows and improve customer service.

Account management: Using toll-free SMS to notify customers about account balances or changes, billing alerts and payment reminders can help businesses keep customers informed and manage their accounts more efficiently.

Customer service: Businesses can reduce customer wait times and improve customer satisfaction by using toll-free SMS for customer service. This service is often used in call or contact centers, or for customer onboarding or customer self-service.

How do I register for toll-free SMS?

Toll-free SMS registration is a simple, straightforward process: Telnyx customers can now register and verify for SMS purposes without having to complete a physical form or talk to a representative. You can use our API and Portal to begin the process with just a few clicks.

To get started, head over to the Telnyx Mission Control Portal and select the “Numbers” tab. From there, click on the “Register Number for SMS” button and fill out the form. Once you submit the form, we’ll take care of the rest. If we have any questions, we’ll be sure to contact you.

Once your number has been verified, you'll be ready to start sending and receiving text messages. It's that simple.

We're confident this new-to-industry functionality will make it easier than ever for you to use toll-free for SMS purposes. Take a look at our Dev Docs to learn more, and get started in the Portal today.

If you’re wondering whether toll-free SMS is right for you or if you need help getting started, contact our expert support team.

Share on Social

Related articles

Sign up and start building.