How to Send a Text Message to Landline Phones

Landline phone on a desktop

Like telephone booths before them, landline phones are slowly becoming extinct. Today, less than 40% of households have landlines. Instead, people are relying on mobile phones and messaging apps on their devices.

There are around 120 million landlines left in America, so you’ve probably accidentally texted a landline before. But what actually happens when you press “send” on that message? If you mistakenly text a landline belonging to your aunt, relative, or friend, you might wonder where that message goes.

Read on to learn if you can send a text to landlines.

What Is a Landline?

A landline number is a phone number that relies on physical wires to transmit voice calls. For comparison, mobile phone numbers—of which there are over 396 million in America—transmit calls and texts without wires, but through radio waves. Alternately, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers, which are another popular business choice, use the internet to transmit voice traffic.

While landlines are considered old-fashioned, they have some benefits that lead businesses and individuals to keep them around. For example, some landlines allow people to use them even during power outages. Plus, they’re harder to hack than VoIP.

When Might You Send a Text to a Landline?

There are many reasons you might try to send a text to a landline. You might do it accidentally. You might assume that the number on a business’s website is a textable mobile number. Or, you might just text a landline to see if it works. In any of these cases, you’re probably wondering can you text a landline? 

The answer is yes, you can send a text to a landline. But what happens after you press “send”?

What Happens If You Text a Landline?

After you text a landline, there are three possibilities for what happens next. Some of them are more ideal than others.




  1. Your text message is left undelivered. If your recipient doesn’t have a Text to Landline service in place or a text-enabled landline (more on that below), the message will never be delivered.
  2. Your text message is delivered as a voice message. If your recipient has set up Text to Landline, which is a service that converts texts into voice messages, they can pick up the phone and agree to hear your text read by an automated voice. If your recipient doesn’t pick up, the voice message is delivered in voicemail format. (You will need to accept your carrier’s specific fees each time you send one of these messages.)
  3. Your text message is delivered like a typical text. If your recipient has text-enabled their landline with help from business text messaging software, they will receive your text as a normal text. Usually, these businesses have a central inbox in an app where they’ll receive and reply to your message.

In other words, if you text a landline, your text is either not delivered, delivered as a voice message, or delivered like a regular text message.

Should You Send a Text to Landlines?

Ultimately, there are not many downsides to sending texts to landlines. Your text may never be delivered, but unless it is a critical message, then that isn’t a big problem. You may have to pay a small fee if your recipient has a Text to Landline service set up, but then they’ll receive your message, albeit in a voice format. And—best case scenario—if you realize that the recipient can text you back through their landline number, then you can have a normal texting conversation.

How to Text-Enable Business Landlines

Nearly 50% of businesses aren’t equipped to receive or answer texts, and in some cases, this is simply because they haven’t text-enabled their landline. A business might be interested in setting up texting for their landline because they want to connect with customers through this frequently-used channel. Plus, answering customer messages through SMS helps teams answer customers’ questions faster.

How Does Text-Enabling a Business Landline Technology Work?

Your landline number has a service profile identifier (SPID). Your landline provider can release this SPID, assigning it to a business SMS provider. The business SMS provider can work behind the scenes to reroute texts sent to that landline number to an online inbox, where you can receive and send SMS messages from your landline number. Throughout this text-enabling process your voice services remain intact, so customers can keep calling in.

How Do You Text-Enable a Business Landline?

The text-enabling process typically only takes a few minutes, but, depending on your setup, could take up to a few hours. You must first select a business SMS provider that can help you through the process. Then you should be able to:

  1. Start the text-enabling process from your business SMS platform. Typically this involves entering the phone number that you’d like to enable.
  2. Verify a PIN code sent by your business SMS provider through a phone call.
  3. Sign an electronic Letter of Authorization (LOA). Your business SMS provider will then use the LOA to coordinate with your voice provider, text-enabling your phone behind the scenes.




Once this process is complete, you will see every text customers send to your landline, and be able to reply to them.

Conclusion: Sending a Text to Landlines

If you text a landline, three things might happen: your message might go undelivered, it might be delivered as a voice message, or it might be delivered as a text message. All of this depends on how your recipient’s phone system is set up—and whether they’re prepared to connect with you through the channel you like the best.

Want to learn more about sending a text to landlines? Check out our text to landline resource page.

As Heymarket’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Hailey Colwell creates texting resources that help brands make meaningful connections with their customers. Her background combines CRM software and journalism, including writing for American Public Media. When she's not editing, she's probably riding her bike.
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