The impact of grey route messages exposed
Mobile network operators (MNOs) have certainly got their work cut out. The market has never been more competitive both from within the sector and those trying to sneak in unnoticed.
Unlock your potential
Monetisation is, of course, high on the list for any company but mobile operators have an added headache of revenue just passing them by. To unlock its full potential revenue, mobile operators are now turning to company’s who can provide managed services, such as 365squared, for help and guidance to protect and increase both their reputations and forecasted income, says Roneel Prasad, founder and CCO at 365squared.
The biggest loss of revenue for mobile operators is from grey route messaging. As businesses look for the most cost effective way to contact their customers by SMS, it would be only natural for them to look for the cheapest option to stretch their communications budget. However, this attention to the wrong detail (cost, not quality) can have devastating effects on both the MNO and the business in question.
Choose quality over cheap
Let’s say a CCO of a healthcare business wants to ensure his customers are contacted by SMS every month to send reminders for their upcoming appointments. He and his team search through the options and find a supplier who will send his bulk messages at a knock down rate. Result! They begin their partnership and the CCO is trusting his supplier to do as expected, blissfully unaware he has just enlisted the help of an illegal, grey route message trafficker.
The minimal fees these grey routes can charge are enticing, but just how do they get away with it? Typically, the CCO’s messages will now be routed via another country and will dodge every interconnect fee owed to the network operators. They confuse the network operators by bouncing the messages between many different networks so they are not sure whether or not to block them. Utilising this underhanded approach makes it incredibly hard to pin-point the originator of said message. So, by illegally using the networks free of charge, this “saving” is passed onto our CCO who currently believes he has a bargain.
Grey routes cause havoc
Relying on these cheap suppliers of grey, illegal routes can put a business on the map for all the wrong reasons. Messages cannot be scheduled, which can cause havoc if their sole intention is to remind someone of their appointment. There is even evidence that these messages don’t even reach their destination at all, which is not surprising seeing as they have to take such a convoluted route to avoid being detected.
Back at the business, the customer care line starts to go wild with complaints. People are demanding to know why they didn’t receive their appointment reminder or why it was sent two weeks after the appointment took place. Oh dear…. You couple that with “bad news travels fast” and they have a potentially reputation damaging situation on their hands.
Sending bulk messages by these routes clogs up the network for everyone – including those legitimately paying to use it, so it’s not surprising MNO’s are trying their best to install suitable security to protect both their legitimate network users and their revenue.
Security is key
Shutting down these grey routes is vital. My experience shows that between 80% to 115% of legitimate opt-in messages sit in the SS7 cloud in the absence of proper blocking and then these messages shift to the local interconnects – either to the on-net or off-net mno’s – to the VAS or enterprise teams and sim-boxes once the SS7 protocol is protected. The need for a fully managed 24/7 firewall has never been greater.
Where not all local inbound interfaces and a single route is available, traffic secured through much hard work can shift away to this routes within two weeks.
Having an additional security layer in place at the MNO point may seem like an unnecessary additional investment, but when you consider that the projected revenue loss from grey route messaging to MNO’s is in the region of $600m by 2019, you can see why more and more mobile operators are turning to companies like 365squared to help them guard their profits and mitigate the risk of fraudulent grey routes using their networks.
The author of this blog is Roneel Prasad, founder and CCO at 365squared
About the author:
Roneel is an international business professional with almost seven years of experience in telecoms and an additional seven years of experience in accounting and corporate finance. He offers us a unique blend of experience having worked in wholesale voice and messaging, roaming and prepaid retail business with commercial responsibilities.
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