What is P2P and A2P Messaging?


Kevin Elkins


P2P (‘Person-to-Person’) is defined as two-way messaging. Typically, this is the conventional conversational two-way SMS or MMS messaging between individuals. From CTIA best practices: “Person-to-Person (P2P) generally describes the low-volume exchange of wireless messages between end users... the concept of consistent with typical human operation defines P2P traffic to distinguish P2P from A2P traffic.”

A2P (‘Application-to-Person’) is one-way SMS to which recipients are not expected to reply. Typically this represents high volume messaging between businesses and individuals. Some common examples are a logistics company sending delivery statuses and notifications, a dentist’s office sending one-way alerts and reminders, or a financial institution sending PIN codes to individuals either using short codes or long codes

From CTIA best practices: “A2P traffic is all messaging that falls outside the definition of P2P (i.e., traffic that is not consistent with typical human operation).

The major difference between the current P2P service that Bandwidth offers today on US & Canadian local 10-digit phone numbers and the A2P Messaging service using Toll-Free numbers is:

  • A2P formally allows TCPA compliant and opted-in use cases for many application-to-person use cases such as alerts, PIN codes, requested marketing, and automated, high-volume interactions between business/government and consumers.
  • The 1 SMS/number/second message limits imposed in the guidelines for P2P messaging do not apply to A2P messaging services.
  • The use of a A2P text messaging service requires formal approval by Bandwidth (and potentially carriers depending on the use case and company generating the outbound traffic).  
  • The A2P service is priced differently than P2P messaging services

If your use case requires A2P messaging please refer here.

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