SMS Sender ID: What prefixes like VM, AD etc. mean in Bulk SMS’ I receive?

Bulk SMS Regulation Background

Little do many know the present DNC regulations in India have a background. Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preferences Regulation, 2010 are built on and preceded by Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations, 2007. When the initial regulations of 2007 were put in place, there was no common standard of Sender-ID (the from name) in Bulk SMS’ that were sent. This meant, SMS’ would be sent with Sender ID as literally anything, e.g. 57333, HelloWorld or any other such name.  This made it difficult for regulatory authorities to determine the origin and sender of SMS’. So there was really no way of tracking the sender of SMS’ except detailed deep dive into CDRs (which was a tedious process).

Welcome, SMS Prefix

c2008, on 10th December, the TRAI called it time enough. And tBulk SMSold all bulk SMS senders to fall in line. And that meant mandating the telecom operators (the entry point of SMS’ into the telecom world). What did they say? They said

  1. SMS sender ID’s in India would be of total 9 characters at the maximum.
  2. These will be of the format **-****** (nine characters, first two characters to be alphabets and third, a hyphen or dash and the last 6 characters again alphabets)
  3. The First Two Characters, would be First Character denoting the Operator who is originating the SMS, the Second Character denoting the telecom circle.
  4. The last 6 characters being alphabets characters for the name of the sender. For example, Phonon, CitiBk, HDFCBk, Indigo, AmExBk etc.
List of SMS Prefixes

First Character (Operator Name) List

Sr. Operator Name Prefix to be Used
1  Aircel

(Aircel Cellular Ltd., Dishnet Wireless Ltd. Aircel Ltd.)

2  Airtel

(Bharti Airtel Ltd., Bharti Hexacom Ltd.)


(Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.)

4  Loop Mobile, formerly BPL

(Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd.)

5 Videocon

(Datacom Solutions Pvt. Ltd.)


(HFCL Infotel Ltd.)

7  Idea

(Idea Cellular Ltd., Aditya Birla Telecom Ltd.)


(Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd.)

9  RCom

(Reliance Communications Ltd.)

10  RJio

(Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.)

11  Reliance GSM

(Reliance Telecom Ltd.)

12 Shyam

(Shyam Telecom Ltd.)

13  Spice

(Spice Communications Ltd.)

14 Tata / Tata Docomo

(Tata Teleservices Ltd., Tata Teleservices Mah. Ltd.)

15 Uninor / Telenor

(Telewings Communications Services Pvt. Ltd.)

16  Vodafone Group of Companies  V

Second Character (Circle Name) List

Sr. Circle Name Prefix to be Used
1  Andhra Pradesh  A
2  Assam  S
3  Bihar  B
4  Delhi  D
5  Gujarat  G
6  Haryana  H
7  Himachal Pradesh  I
8  Jammu & Kashmir  J
9 Karnataka  X
10 Kerala  L
11 Kolkata  K
12  Madhya Pradesh (& Chhattisgarh)  Y
13  Maharashtra (& Goa)  Z
14  Mumbai  M
15  North East India  N
16  Orissa  O
17  Punjab  P
18  Rajasthan  R
19  Tamil Nadu (incl. Chennai)  T
20  UP East  E
21  UP West  W
22  West Bengal  V


The TRAI notification, 104-17/2008-MN of 10th December, 2008 and updated directive of 14th November, 2014.

About Phonon’s Bulk SMS Services

Phonon has multiple operator gateways with significant redundancies built-in. SMS services are typically used to support our various applications including Click-to-Call™, Inbound IVR systems and Outbound Dialers. Apart from standard Bulk SMS services, Phonon’s Bulk SMS services provide ready to use service APIs including XML, HTTP and SMPP services. Our SMS services are truly enterprise class SMS services.

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