Operators often struggle to realise their full revenue potential of their messaging business. Traffic can be “invisible” as messages are routed through unconventional routes and unmonitored SS7 connections. Billable A2P messages are frequently disguised as P2P, or terminated at on-net rates through a variety of techniques and manipulations.
Clearing up this chaos requires a multifaceted approach, because there are many elements to consider and optimisations to be made. Some of these can seem quite small but they are all important. Some of them can even seem connected to the network in only the loosest of ways.
Step 1: Start close to home
Addressing organisational challenges is probably one of the most important steps, because you need to be sure all your teams are pulling in the same direction. For example, staff with close relationships with aggregators may not always choose policies or actions that are in the best interests of your MNO, due to financial incentives or a desire to maintain friendships. You also need robust C-level oversight without slowing down critical everyday processes.
Step 2: Survey the market
You will also need to understand the market, since this is vital to understanding how traffic behaves. Where messages enter the network, the services to which they belong, and the routes they take between their source and your subscribers are all important to correctly segmenting and charging for them. It may not seem relevant, but if you know which apps are popular in your market you will have a good idea of the kind of traffic you should be receiving – and understanding where the app developer is based will determine which connections it should be using.
Step 3: Prepare the best defence
This is the point where you need to start thinking about your firewall. Too many operators simply deploy a firewall and consider themselves safe. But properly configuring a firewall requires prior effort to coordinate and plan how to implement appropriate rules and routing procedures. For instance, some operators don’t keep up with manipulations to message content intended to obscure its origin. They might filter content with the phrase ‘PIN code’ and ‘P1N code’ but if someone trying to use grey routes switches to ‘P I N c o d e’ they won’t catch it. So expertise and constant review are vital.
Step 4: Understand your service messages
To help this coordination, and support the all-important task of ongoing firewall maintenance, operators also need visibility of the types of services using their network. This is an extension of your market understanding: having a comprehensive database of international A2P services and their message profiles lets you weed out manipulated or fraudulent messages. If you start to get traffic from an app that is new to your market, it is invaluable to know what kinds of messages it sends to users, and what content they (should) contain. This lets you quickly iterate blocking rules (from step 3) and tells you which messages to add to your white lists – and how to appropriately charge for them.
There are a lot of steps to consider, and so we have created a handy checklist for you to use to see just what needs to be done to optimise your network and unlock its potential.