Healthy Wholesales Messaging: Understanding the Ecosystem

3 min read

A2P messaging has long become the staple of mobile operators’ incomes, and in a nutshell, it is all about the flow of premium traffic from enterprises to MNO networks. However, it is the journey the traffic takes where things become a bit arcane. The abundance of parties involved makes the A2P ecosystem hard to navigate. While many entities choose coexistence as the means to survive and thrive, others assume a more egotistical approach, pursuing only their own interests. Join us to see how wholesale A2P messaging operates – and how you can get the best out of it while strengthening the ecosystem.

Where many paths and errands meet

There are more than 333 million companies worldwide and over 750 mobile operators that are GSMA members alone. Imagine the chaos arising from of all these brands and MNOs trying to connect, tracking premium messaging amounts, and settling payments, not to mention the endless volumes (pun intended) of paperwork and contracts. Routing complexity is another factor, since suboptimal message delivery raises operational expenses.

Fortunately, hubs and aggregators have become the focal points for A2P traffic, providing most of today’s global mobile connectivity. Some have been around for decades, having accumulated comprehensive knowledge of major industry verticals’ use scenarios and traffic profiles. With this knowledge and a clear view of global connections, they help enterprises collect and route their messages while ensuring all traffic reaching operator networks is licit and properly monetised.

Yet, most opportunities come with their own flavour of troubles.

Where it begins

Every business constantly strives to optimise expenses while asking for superb service and connectivity. But quality services can be costly, and higher pricing means you are giving an edge to your competitors… unless you start taking shortcuts. And such shortcuts come mainly at the operator’s expense (while still affecting the enterprises — and the end users), destabilising the ecosystem and steering it into a downward spiral. 

At the dawn of SMS, operators primarily made money from P2P messaging, paying little attention to how A2P traffic reached their network, thus creating an opening for the “little (at the time) evil” — grey routes. Initially causing little harm to operators, these bypasses have become common amongst less conscious service providers. With P2P messaging becoming increasingly cheaper and A2P volumes rising in the 2000s and 2010s, operators started facing sudden revenue decreases. Worse, many operators are still oblivious to the source of their revenue leakages, and if their MO is still P2P-centric, they may not pay enough attention to their A2P business and its issues.

While P2P traffic volumes decline, A2P messaging revenues remain relatively stable. This is another reason for operators to keep a close eye on safe message routing.
Source: Statista

The threat behind grey routes

To maintain a healthy messaging ecosystem, we need to understand that grey routes are equally harmful for operators and enterprises. Let us have a closer look and see how they work.

In a nutshell, grey routes are about masking and delivering more expensive types of traffic as cheaper ones. A2P is more expensive than P2P; international destinations are pricier than local messages. As a result, unscrupulous third parties might charge the sending enterprise customer the international A2P rate while disguising and delivering the traffic as cheaper international P2P or local A2P messages.

That does not sound great, right? Time to discuss traffic blending. This scheme involves the enterprise’s partners filtering the traffic delivered to the MNO network by reviewing the content and only terminating the critical transactional messages to the intended recipients. So, when a retailer sends a mix of OTPs, order confirmations and product promos, their unethical partner only delivers critical updates while discarding all promotional messages and providing fake delivery reports (and charging the enterprise as if all messages were successfully delivered). Now that hurts. 

What can we do?

Ethical cooperation is essential for healthy ecosystem.  By choosing a proven messaging partner, operators can maximise their traffic potential, eliminating illegal routes and optimising message delivery. At the same time, enterprises can be sure that they receive exactly what they paid for: rapid traffic delivery, transparent pricing, successfully delivered campaigns and, finally — elevated customer experience.  If you enjoyed this article, you might be interested in our expert opinion on SMS firewalls.

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