The first telephone call was made on March 10th, 1876, by Alexander Graham Bell. Bell demonstrated his ability to “talk with electricity” by transmitting a call to his assistant, Thomas Watson. The first words transmitted were “Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you”. Telephony captured the imagination of the world and took it by storm. The rest as they say – whoever ‘they’ are! – is history…
Voice has traditionally been a cash cow for mobile network operators (MNOs), and governments alike. Some governments introduced a telecommunications tax levied on international incoming voice traffic into their country which was a nice little earner. That was until the arrival of the Over-the-Top (OTT) players changed the market for ever.
The actors providing these OTT services are the US Internet groups known as ‘GAFA’ (Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook) and others such as WeChat and Viber. Their rampaging success has created numerous challenges for telecom operators, cannibalizing their revenues whilst tying up network resources they paid handsomely for and for which OTTs pay them nothing. The same fate awaited SMS which is a slightly newer construct.
SMS was conceived back in the mid-1980s, never designed to be a two-way means of communication. Launched in 1992, SMS morphed into the Person-to-Person (P2P) communication juggernaut it became within a handful of years but when the OTTs arrived and really got their feet under the table, P2P SMS volumes started to shrink. They still are on a one-way trajectory downwards. Thankfully though there is a glimmer of light for MNOs in the shape of Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS.
A2P SMS volumes started to exceed those of P2P globally a couple of years ago and are constantly growing. Why haven’t the OTTs delivered the same knockout blow to A2P though? Simple. No other channel ensures delivered content is read as much as A2P SMS does.
Organisations globally have latched onto the fact that when it comes to delivering their marketing, transactional and informative content to their customers, nothing drives engagement like SMS. Given almost every SIM enabled mobile device supports SMS, the channel is truly ubiquitous. You don’t need Internet access to send or receive it or need a smartphone. It just works. Of prime interest to MNOs should be the fact that the A2P (and P2A) SMS market is worth north of $50 billion annually.
It’s logical to assume that given the content is being delivered to subscribers of MNOs (I.e., MNOs’ own customers), MNOs would automatically be receiving a very nice piece of this growing pie but you’d be wrong. A2P SMS has never been a key focus for most operators and thus the field has been left open to others for decades. Aggregators stepped in 20 years ago and have built up impressive knowledge of the Enterprise messaging space, earning a lot of money in the process.
To exploit the margin opportunity to the full many content deliverers have been using loopholes and bypass opportunities to reduce their cost base. SIM farms have been a staple here and with all the talk about SIM farms in A2P SMS world, people seem to have forgotten that SIM farms sprung up to service the Voice world. We’ve been painfully aware of this from the beginning and offered a comprehensive solution to stop Voice fraud and bypass in its tracks for many years, having recently extended this to encompass SMS.
Thanks to the work some companies in the industry are doing, MNOs are slowly switching on to the benefits of securing and monetizing their A2P SMS channels. If the A2P SMS channel is totally secure though the temptation is to look for other less secure or less monitored areas – and Voice is proving to be just this right now.
Voice in the form of text-to-speech is proving to be a legitimate alternative means of delivering content such as one-time passwords (OTPs) but whilst the temptation to do so (reducing costs compared with SMS for the most part) can be strong, the user experience is sub-optimal and impacted. Text-to-speech takes longer to deliver the same content than a text delivery. Also, many MNOs are really starting to clamp down on aggressive usage of this and adjusting their Voice commercial models to make this less attractive. But there is one more thing in the Voice world which can really hurt an operator’s bottom line – flash calling.
Flash calling can seriously hurt any MNO’s A2P revenues as it uses a missed call (with no answer) to the recipient’s handset to verify their number. It opens up a host of security issues too. None of this is good news for operators. Their revenues risk quite literally disappearing within a flash.
MNOs Voice businesses ae clearly under attack from multiple vectors and the only way to be certain an operator is fully covered is by bringing in a partner who understand both the Voice and SMS worlds intimately – threats after all can move from one to the other very easily.
Having separate anti-fraud solutions for one’s Voice and SMS businesses will not be able to successfully address this complex area of cross-channel fraud which leaves you with one option. Us.
Here at Vox we offer you one solution which is able to monitor both your Voice and SMS transactions in a rapid, seamless way, all whilst ensuring customer experience is not adversely impacted. If you know of another company that can do that, we’d like to hear from you.
Mobilesquared most recent SMS A2P databook indicates 35% SMS A2P gray routes in Ghana, A VOX360 network audit […]