New CTIA Messaging Guidelines: What Businesses Need to Know

Published March 02, 2017 by Parth Awasthi

The CTIA, an advocacy group representing the U.S. wireless communication industry, recently released a set of guidelines outlining best practices for bulk mobile messaging via cloud communication platforms. The two key changes that businesses who rely on this channel should be aware of are:

  • The classification of cloud-based providers
  • The way voice proxy calls are handled

Cloud communication platform validation

Once considered an emerging technology with an unknown future, cloud communications platforms are now officially part of the wireless messaging ecosystem. The CTIA guidelines now define them as follows:

Cloud-based providers enable services like voice and messaging to end users using over-the-top IP connectivity or through interoperability with wireless carrier-networked services, including wireless messaging. Some cloud-based providers offer an API to access wireless services while others offer standalone applications.

Changes to voice proxy technology

Voice proxy technology enables users to call each other while keeping their original phone numbers private. For example, a driver for a ride-sharing service might need to confirm a pick-up location with a passenger via phone. In this scenario, a proxy number serves as a bridge, enabling both parties to communicate without having to reveal their actual phone numbers.

Previously, voice proxy numbers were classified as person-to-person (P2P), a term referring to generally low volumes of messages between end users. They also were limited to shortcodes rather than traditional phone numbers.

The new classification of proxy numbers as application-to-person (A2P) messages means they are subject to a new set of guidelines for containing unwanted traffic (more details on that below). It’s also worth noting that the shortcode limitation on proxy numbers has been lifted.

The following are the CTIA’s best practices for protecting consumers against unwanted traffic:

  • Service providers should provide consumers the ability to block traffic from specific telephone numbers.
  • Consumers should be able to report unwanted mobile messages to their service provider.
  • Communication platform providers should present consumers with a TCPA-compliant opt-in process.

The following are the CTIA’s best practices for containing unwanted traffic within the mobile messaging ecosystem:

  • Open communication:  Service providers should consult with each other when unwanted messaging threats are identified. They should do this while maintaining network interoperability.
  • Suspending unwanted messaging traffic:  When all practical measures have been exhausted, providers may suspend traffic from the applicable providers. Such suspensions should last only until the messaging issues are resolved.
  • Transparency of traffic: If possible, service providers should develop unique identifiers for enterprises that originate messaging traffic.
  • Network operations center (NOC):  Communications platform vendors should maintain an information technology operations center.

To read the full guidelines, visit the official CTIA website.