A common short code (CSC) is a short telephone number, usually consisting of five digits, that is used to address SMS and MMS messages from a cellular telephone. Common short codes may also be called mobile short codes or short numbers. Each common short code is designed to be unique to each operator.
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CSCs are used for additional wireless services like television voting, polling, ordering ringtones, making donations and queries to Google's SMS search engine. CSCs are typically billed at a higher rate than SMS or MMS messages.
Although CSCs have been popular in Europe for years, they only gained wide-spread adoption in the United States after their use as a voting method on the immensely popular "American Idol" television show. Cross-carrier CSCs were launched in the United States in 2003.
A similar but unrelated term, shortcode, refers to a pseudocode interpreter for mathematics problems used on BINAC and UNIVAC.