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4 Critical Things to Consider When Choosing Between Toll-Free and 10DLC Numbers

Written by: Aaron Alter

Understanding your A2P 10DLC & Toll-Free Options

What Are Toll-Free and 10DLC Numbers?

Toll-Free and 10-digit long code (10DLC or local numbers) are two different types of phone numbers businesses use for Application-to-Person (A2P) text messaging. For a consumer, the difference between the two is that a Toll-Free number will have a distinct three-digit code (for example, 800). A 10DLC number, on the other hand, will have a region-specific area code associated with it that might be recognizable to the recipient. But those aren’t the only things a business looks at when deciding which type of number to use. 

We often see long-standing businesses will stick with their Toll-Free number simply because they’ve been using it for decades and it’s known to their consumers. We’ve also seen businesses stick with Toll-Free out of concern that 10DLC, much newer between the two, is too complicated to leverage. A known stigma in the industry. 

At Telgorithm, we offer both Toll-Free and 10DLC messaging, but we’re passionate about providing as much context and information we can so that you can make the best choice for your business overall, especially as the A2P world continues to evolve. Here are some of the most important things to consider when deciding between 10DLC versus Toll-Free messaging: 

  1. Your business use case
  2. The throughput (or rate limit) potential 
  3. Pricing for sending and receiving messages
  4. The time it takes to turn up 

So let's get into it…

#1 Which Number is Best for Your Business Use Case?

Toll-Free numbers and 10DLC numbers both have their appeal for A2P text messaging. Depending on your message volume, deciding what number is best for your business should be focused on use case. Here are a few of the key differences between the two to get you started: 


  • You can purchase a vanity number spelling out your business name
  • Toll-free numbers can be text enabled which allows customers to reach out first and send text messages that businesses can respond to 
  • You can enable “Text or Call” next to your TFN on your marketing materials, you’ll give your customers more options for connecting with your sales team


  • You can demonstrate local presence with regional area codes
  • Region-specific numbers can help to avoid looking overly “spammy” 
  • If your business use case anticipates receiving inbound messages, it’s good to note that they are free on 10DLC

#2 What is Your Throughput Potential for Each Number Type?

After use case, you should be focused on understanding your throughput potential on each number type. It is known that Toll-Free has some disadvantages compared to 10DLC when looking at throughput, or rate limit, potential.

At the highest level, Toll-Free has an industry standard of 3 messages-per-second (MPS) or 180 messages-per-minute (MPM). To achieve higher throughputs, you must reach out to your messaging provider and put in a special request for your use case, but there’s still a standard ceiling:

  • For SMS: 150 MPS or 9000 MPM (with special approval & pricing)
  • For MMS: 25 MPS or 1500 MPM

In other words, your throughput is maxed at those limits, even after paying more and making special requests. 

On the other hand, the industry standard for 10DLC is 4 MPS (compared to Toll-Free’s 3 MPS). Just like with Toll-Free, you must put in a request for higher throughput, but the ceiling is much higher: 

  • For SMS: 75 MPS or 4,500 MPM (receive 75 MPS without any special cases faster OR submit a Special business review to get more - it’s a one-time request and you’ll need to pay more per message)
  • For MMS: 40 MPS or 2,400 MPM (That's a whopping 60% higher throughput for MMS on 10DLC. So depending on your messaging use case and how important MMS is to your customers, this may be an important selling point.)

For more information, The Campaign Registry (TCR), the reputation authority for A2P 10DLC breaks down the throughput allotment for 10DLC in their Quick Reference Guide (page 14). 

#3 Understanding the Costs 

In general, having a good understanding of your A2P messaging needs from a use case and volume or throughput perspective and how Toll-Free or 10DLC will enable you on both is most important. Next we’d recommend looking at cost. 

From a monthly recurring standpoint, 10DLC outbound messaging costs are lower overall. If your 10DLC traffic is registered, your Carrier pass-through fees would be lower as well. And what’s more, 10DLC inbound messages are completely free – they are not on Toll-Free. 

#4 Knowing the Time You Need to Get Started

Once you’ve assessed the needs for your use case, your volume requirements and your budget – the last thing to consider is your timeline to get started. 

Do as much planning and preparation as you can before your customers need to send messages as there are industry-wide delays on turn up times for both Toll-Free and 10DLC. On average, we’re seeing that it is currently taking 4-6 weeks to turn up a Toll-Free number and about 2-3 weeks on average to turn up a 10DLC number. 

For 10DLC specifically, Telgorithm has streamlined the registration process to offer automated registration, expedited Campaign vetting approvals, and automated number provisioning to get you turned up in one week or less.

So depending on your timeline and how quickly you need to get started will help you decide which number to choose. 

Final Thoughts on Toll-Free vs. 10DLC 

In conclusion, we believe these are the top four criteria to consider when choosing the best  number for your business. We want to be a resource for anyone navigating the A2P landscape currently in search of better messaging results. 

If you need higher throughputs for your high volume messaging and quickly, Telgorithm’s Automated Registration and Auto-Rate Limiting tech called Smart Queueing, you can get started today to achieve the throughput you are looking for. Contact an expert now.

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