SMS SPECIAL REPORT: Top 10 SMS innovations
Capacity selects the latest solutions and services helping to bring innovation to the SMS market.
Product: A managed SMS service designed to enable operators to monetise and maintain full control of A2P SMS traffic destined for its subscribers, helping to prevent SMS spam.
What they say: “The development of the managed SMS service is designed to address some of the biggest challenges facing mobile operators,” says Brian D’Arcy, CCO at Anam.
Impact on market: Launched in June 2015, the service is said to be used in conjunction with an operator’s existing filtering technology or combined with Anam’s SMS Firewall. It has so far been successfully utilised by the Digicel Group, which operates in 31 markets across the Caribbean, Central America and Asia-Pacific. It is said to have helped to protect the company’s subscribers against SMS spam as well as ensure the correct billing of A2P SMS.
To support the launch of the service offering, Anam also appointed Hugh Carberry as senior commercial analyst to the managed services team. Carberry was previously employed by Telefonica O2, where he oversaw interconnect reconciliation and billing, premium SMS billing and settlement, direct carrier billing and A2P SMS billing.
Moving forward, the company expects to develop and add new offerings to its managed SMS service portfolio.
Product: EasyConnect SMS is a solution designed to enable smaller service providers to launch international SMS services quickly and cost-effectively.
What they say: “BICS is committed to providing the highest quality international communications services to players of all sizes. The EasyConnect platform gives smaller businesses access to BICS’ network of direct route and complete portfolio of comprehensive SMS services,” says Bart Vandekerckhove, head of mobile messaging at BICS.
Impact on market: The launch of EasyConnect SMS in May follows the release of BICS’ EasyConnect VoIP solution five years ago, which was based on the same principal of offering
high-quality routing services for providers without a large network footprint. The expansion of the EasyConnect portfolio to include SMS is said to widen the range of solutions available to smaller providers looking to quickly deploy communication services to their customers. It targets messaging provision for OTT players and A2P providers, offering access to the carrier’s network of over 800 SMS destinations worldwide. It also enables operators to manage all aspects of their SMS business via the cloud, including pricing, invoicing and pre-payment balance monitoring on a daily basis.
Product: SMS+ is a new service designed to prevent SMS fraud, spams, spoofs, fakes, floods and ghost messaging.
What they say: “Mobile operators will prevent subscriber churn and gain new revenue streams. SMS providers and aggregators can legitimately terminate SMS to a large number of networks via one access point – so it is beneficial for all parties involved,” says Gergely Vadas, head of mobile services and carrier partnerships at Deutsche Telekom ICSS.
Impact on market: Launched in May, SMS+ aims to support operators tackling the growing problem of unwanted messages on networks, which are not only increasing traffic but also resulting in loss of revenues. Protection mechanisms against unpaid use of networks are therefore becoming more of a necessity in the market. In this case, SMS+ is able to identify and block unwanted SMS messages based on SS7. The company claims that other verification systems on the market are static and therefore cannot detect the continually changing behaviour of grey route traffic.
The solution also provides SMS aggregators with official routes and operators with their standard termination rates. It aims to ensure quick and high quality termination of messages first to the mobile networks of Deutsche Telekom and its affiliates.
Product: A2P SMART Hub is a suite of products and service designed help MNOs increase revenues by legitimising and monetising their A2P SMS traffic.
What they say: “Many MNOs are unaware that grey route traffic is terminating on their network, or are simply not aware of the extent of this. The introduction of the new components to the A2P SMART Hub addresses this problem and is really easy to deploy. Before beginning a partnership, we analyse every MNO’s situation to accurately identify and recommend the best combination of SMART components to enable MNOs to fully monetise their A2P SMS revenues,” says Perry Offer, CEO at Dialogue Group.
Impact on market: Dialogue extended its A2P SMART Hub product suite in March this year, and in particular has heightened its focus on preventing fraudulent A2P traffic.
This includes an A2P SMS market analysis tool, which provides MNOs with an overview of their network enabling them to identify and block up to 90% of fraudulent A2P traffic sources. The tool can detect fraud by identifying grey routes, as well as highlighting other areas of network leakage.
It also features a content filtering solution, which is capable of filtering based on specific aspects of the message content, as well as SMART Gateway; a fully managed, outsourced solution for A2P SMS. The hub has been utilised by Bangladesh operator Grameenphone and an undisclosed provider in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We’ve now fully productised our offer, which is called Sentinel. I call it a ‘non fire-wall firewall’. There are two ways in which you can lock down a network: You can either install a firewall on the network or you can use a track analysis tool,” says Offer.
Sentinel is said to provide revenue assurance by enabling MNOs to grow and sustain monetisation of A2P traffic and gives access to reporting and management tools that give immediate notification when a new grey route is detected. “Sentinel is unique as it analyses grey route traffic by brand. It can tell you which aggregator and which brand the traffic came from. You can therefore see very quickly through a web portal which brands are sending grey traffic,” says Offer.
Product: MatchGuard is an advanced filtering technology designed to enable composite filtering rules, which are said to give operators greater flexibility in managing SMS traffic on the network.
What they say: “Haud’s portfolio of modular traffic management filters provide industry-leading protection against fraud and grey route traffic for mobile network operators. Each filter monitors SMS traffic based on a different parameter, effectively acting as a resilient firewall. MatchGuard enables operators to create flexible, compound parameters, ensuring legitimate traffic is not blocked in error, as often happens when using blanket filters,” says Claire Cassar, CEO, Haud.
Impact on market: MatchGuard is part of Haud’s Intelligent Management Suite (IMS). Launched in February 2015 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, IMS is said to give network operators full control of Haud’s SMS firewall features, while simultaneously providing a real-time overview of network traffic and activity. While grey channel SMS traffic has always been an issue for operators, the exponential rise in A2P messaging means that operators risk missing out on significant revenue if they fail to get these routes under control.
Services such as two-factor authentication are driving this traffic, however many A2P messaging providers are bypassing official channels to avoid paying SMS termination rates.
IMS aims to simplify the process of securing against grey channel traffic, allowing operators to eliminate A2P fraud and SMS spam. By ensuring A2P traffic enters the network through official channels, operators can protect against revenue loss.
Haud was set up in 2010 with the aim to secure communication pathways for MNOs, MVNOs and MVNEs.
Product: IDT Messaging; a white-label OTT messaging service that combines IP and SMS messaging.
What they say: “Mobile operators continue to lose customers and revenues to OTT messaging services. IDT Messaging gets operators back in the game by providing a more robust experience that integrates IP messaging and SMS, thus outperforming both OTT and SMS competitors.
IDT Messaging joins our robust portfolio of white label value-added services including IDT Beyond Voice Apps,” says Ben Hirsch, chief marketing officer at IDT Telecom.
Impact on market: Released in May 2014, the product allows mobile operators to launch their own messaging applications, similar to OTT applications that use IP messaging, and has features such as group chats, video and location sharing.
It aims to weave SMS together with IP applications so operators can provide SMS messages, as well as OTT messages, all in one application.
Where IDT believes it can differentiate from OTT players such as WhatsApp and Facebook is that they do not have direct access and control to SMS, and to run such a service through a third party provider would be too expensive. Part of the offering also includes Magic Words; a contextual content-engine for messaging. Moving forward, IDT hopes OTT white label services can help carriers better compete with OTT players.
“I think carriers have to start looking at ways to monetise and compete. OTTs have traditionally been quicker to market and more nimble than carriers,” says IDT CEO Nick Ford. “A white label OTT service allows them to get to market much quicker.”
Product: 2-way SMS messaging provides short codes, virtual long numbers and tools for managing inbound messages.
What they say: “The value of 2-way SMS has been demonstrated by the wide range of businesses now implementing it. Our 2-way SMS service has already been used for global reservations systems, CRM and customer service platforms and extended 2-factor authentication. In each of these cases businesses have improved reach and the level of customer interaction,” says Silvio Kutic, Infobip founder and CEO.
Impact on market: 2-way SMS messaging targets online businesses, service providers, application developers, marketing agencies and other companies by allowing them to run multiple campaigns on a single number.
It claims to help businesses create a dialogue with customers, drive sales and even manage something as straightforward as appointment booking. Last August, Infobip extended coverage of its 2-way SMS messaging services to 40 countries, including the US, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and Mexico. The company claims to process over 1.5 billion SMS messages monthly.
Product: SMS Exchange is designed to allow operators to identify profitable routes for SMS traffic.
What they say: “The improved capabilities we are now able to offer with SMS Exchange and the RTX Partner Program means that operators can come to us for a range of different services,” said Neil Kitcher, managing director at RTX.
Impact on market: Launched at the start of 2014, SMS Exchange is an extension of RTX’s Partner Programme, which supports in-house wholesale activities between telcos, and the company expects the upgrade to help operators drive revenue. SMS Exchange aims to allow operators to capitalise on the growing demand for A2P messaging, in a risk-free environment.
RTX has added new members to its exchange programme over the last 18 months. “Tier 1 operators can explore new markets with the confidence that financial risk is minimised - our relationship with major international banks is unique in this highly specialised sector of the industry - and niche players and specialist providers such as MVNOs can make deals with carriers they might previously not have had access to,” Kitcher adds.
Product: Global Enterprise Messaging utilises an in-house operated platform with extensive coverage - both on and off-net - for SMS A2P hubbing. The service is based on a fully redundant platform, addressing the hubbing requirements of either carriers or large aggregators.
What they say: “We are reusing our IPX multi-service interconnection to simply and quickly add SMS hubbing. The objective is to avoid, where possible, use of the public internet connectivity which is widely used in the messaging arena. Therefore achieving a higher level of data security and confidentiality," says Alfredo Fernández Estrada, head of international messaging and new services, Telefonica Business Solutions, wholesale.
"We can distinguish and separate SMS P2P and A2P traffic so as to apply the corresponding business charging model over a secure and end-to-end service assured interconnection over IPX. This is achieved effectively and efficiently meaning commercially competitive pricing and comprehensive reach through IPX interconnection with partners."
Impact on market: Telefonica has positioned itself as a market leader in IPX, and is ambitiously using that as a platform to enhance its established Global Enterprise Messaging service.
The operator is migrating its legacy and LTE services over IPX, and in the process spotted an opportunity for SMS hubbing to become part of its multi-service environment. It claims that by using SMS hubbing for A2P over IPX it can offer an improved level of service, with assured path control and agreement commitments for end-to-end security.
World Telecom Labs (WTL)
Product: Easy SMS Hub is designed to enable operators to increase revenues from text messages by setting up their own SMS hubs.
What they say: “The advantages of bringing SMS routing in-house are clear: increased revenues and reduced costs. ICN know from experience that we deliver what we promise – in this case, a reliable system to establish, manage and maintain an SMS Hub,” says Leigh Smith, MD of WTL.
Impact on market: WTL is very much targeting SMS opportunities in emerging markets with its SMS hub solution. It claims to offer operators with a system for bringing SMS routing in-house, enabling them to either set up direct routes to operators and MNOs around the world or establish direct links for their most popular routes and continue to outsource access to less busy ones.
The idea is it will offer an alternative for operators in emerging markets, which are presently reliant on outsourcing the routing of text traffic to and from other networks to SMS hubs.
The solution has been adopted by Nigerian interconnect exchange ICN, becoming the first carrier in the African country to own and operate its own SMS hub. “WTL’s SMS Easy Hub is ideal for us and will enable us to increase revenues and retain control of SMS traffic within Nigeria. We are an ambitious company and will be looking to extend our SMS hub service to overseas companies in the near future,” says Uche Onwudiwe, COO at ICN.