What is P2P and A2P Messaging?


Kevin Elkins






Common Use-cases

P2P - Conversational Person to Person

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.”

Per Number

- 15-60 messages/minute

- 1,000 messages/day

- 100 unique recipients

- Close to 1:1 inbound messages to outbound messages

- 25 repetitive messages

- Support over SMS

- Chat Bots

- Over-the-top (OTT) tel-co application

- Private Phone Numbers

A2P - Automated message to Person

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).

Per Number

- Bound only by account permissions/rate limits

- Sent with a toll-free phone number. Long Code A2P is currently in Limited Availability.

- Typically much higher ratio of outbound messages vs inbound

- Appointment Reminders

- Shipping & Order Alerts

- Outbound Mass Communications

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 (and soon on Long Codes) 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.

Article is closed for comments.