Maximising the Potential of Your Mobile Network, Part 1: Start Close to Home

3 min read

By now, most mobile network operators are aware that messaging is a key source of income, and that messaging monetisation plays a vital role in enhancing this revenue stream. But how do you know you are getting the full potential from your network optimisation and protection efforts? You may have separated your A2P from your P2P traffic, installed a firewall, and believe you have locked down your network. However there are several factors which may be hindering your ability to fully exploit the potential your network represents.

Here we’ll discuss the issues closest to home: your understanding of your MNO’s potential, and your own organisational visibility.

Climbing the mountain

To understand how you might get more out of your network, let’s borrow an idea from evolutionary theory. Species succeed by being considered “fit” for their environment, but they can only develop in small increments towards a type of fitness that is available to them. There might, in theory, be a better form more adapted to the environment, but to get there a species would have to adopt less fit forms as they transitioned (evolved) towards this improved form.

Let’s put this in terms of an MNO. If your network is at point A in terms of its potential, there isn’t necessarily a way of knowing it is possible to reach point B. Or that point B even exists. And blindly experimenting with changes — whether these are expenditures on security solutions, renegotiating with partners and providers, or organisational restructuring — can seem daunting.

Chart MNO potential and expenditure GMS How to maximise the potential of mobile network

Even slight changes to your business model don’t look appealing: positions A1 and A2 both seem equally unappealing compared to the position you are already in.

But taking that difficult step, towards A2, in order to climb the mountain requires foresight, confidence, and — crucially — a wider conception of where you network is and where it could be. This requires understanding where your lack of optimisation might be coming from in order to effectively skip from point A to point B.

Culture and organisation

The first consideration we’ll look at is your internal organisation. Few MNOs, indeed few companies more generally, have a decent C-level view of fundamental, everyday processes. Those at the top rarely have a good idea about how their organisation works or is structured.

You can deploy an expensive firewall, but does this mean your protection is impregnable? You can segregate your traffic types, but are you doing so efficiently? Your organisational disposition might be standing in the way of realising the true potential of these other efforts.

One problem may be rather underhand: staff with close relationships with aggregators may not always choose policies or actions that are in the best interests of your MNO. This might mean financial incentives or a desire to maintain friendships. Either way, the result is similar to “regulatory capture,” or gamekeeper-turned-poacher.

However we could also paraphrase Hanlon’s razor and say: ‘never attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance.’ Many MNOs have siloed A2P and P2P departments, and if you do not take care to coordinate your various teams, they may not be pulling in the same direction.

While the A2P department is seeking to increase its traffic and eliminate grey routes, they are often redirecting traffic from (grey) P2P channels to (legitimate) A2P channels. With A2P, the main metric is revenue, but P2P delivers little to no margin, instead acting as a basic service, and is measured and assessed in terms of raw SMS traffic. So imagine you are in charge of P2P traffic — what incentive do you have to engage with monetisation efforts when your department will be penalised for “lost” traffic?

Optimisation requires foresight

In order to realise the true potential of your network, you need to be able to imagine how your situation can be improved upon. Here we have talked about how this requires a certain imagination, in order to visualise the potential for growth, and a willingness to critically evaluate organisational factors which can diminish your potential. In future articles we will look at turning our awareness outwards, towards the market, and discuss how to make the most out of your firewall investment.

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