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The black and white facts of grey routes

SMS grey routes are expected to generate revenue leakages of over US$37billion between 2020-2024

With an estimated 48% of mobile operators found not to have  deployed a next-generation SMS firewall to adequately protect A2P SMS business messaging

These are the stats from a survey undertaken by VoxCarrier.

A survey undertaken in 2016 by Juniper Research predicted global operator revenue loss from “grey route” A2P traffic would amount to $62 billion over 6 years

However you slice and dice these figures, they are a startling highlight of the potential risks and financial consequences of not managing A2P SMS, the reality being that A2P messaging can be a significant risk to your business revenues or a significant revenue generator if adequately managed and protected.  Technology, process, audit and management can provide insight and intelligence to ensure that A2P is a revenue generator for the business.

Application-to-person (A2P) grey routes and abuse can take several guises:

Termination through other MNOs.
The most common type of grey route is identifying a way to terminate the traffic without reimbursing a mobile operator or do so paying local peer to peer (P2P) rates.

Historically telecom service providers used to make contracts directly with each other, and in many cases allowing traffic termination on partner’s networks for free, some of these legacy agreements are still in play. The abuse of these legacy zero rate contracts with both local and roaming partners can still occur.

Through directing traffic by determining non-sensitive or urgent traffic via different routes to reduce costs and yet receive all profit margins,

Termination through national aggregators An international telecom service provider uses a local aggregator to terminates traffic generated by a local service which has a national A2P rate lower than the international rate, delivering international A2P traffic under the guise of the local service.

SIM box fraud Not technically a grey route, but a fraudulent activity undertaken with SIM box/farm (hardware containing many SIM cards). Traffic is terminated on the local mobile operator and the international gateway is bypassed avoiding license fees for termination.

Symmetry Solutions undertook a dedicated project to review and audit A2P traffic for a leading UK mobile telecom provider 5 years ago, which is now undertaken as a regular managed service with constant reviews and audits. This initial project was the instigator for a business case to invest in suitable technology and services to manage and secure revenues.

Through Symmetry Solutions reference data management tools, they identified 12,000,000 transactions per month of Mobile terminating traffic from unbillable, unrecognised sources.  This equated to a significant lost revenue opportunity, further in-depth analysis identified it was grey route traffic eroding the bulk SMS revenue, calculations on traffic volumes estimated at least £240,000 per month as a lost revenue opportunity.

The source of the grey route messages was identified mostly originating from three countries - Poland, Sweden and Denmark, this investigation Identified the bulk SMS operators (Compatel, Cardboardfish, Cool, 42Telecom) being the main instigators. EDR data Analysis also identified messages from Dominos, NHS, Google, amongst others using inappropriate bulk grey route SMS’s.

Post the data discovery and audit phase, with a business review of operations, phase two was the Implementation of Send Routing Information (SRI) Blocking to reduce incoming traffic from known grey route operators, with Phase 3 the assistance and support of the process for a business case for protective technology including an SMS Firewall to properly control SMS Mobile Terminating traffic. 

Since this project, it is estimated that if nothing had been investigated, implemented or unchanged over £14 million of revenue opportunity would have been lost.  Startling figures, but with figures of approximately £3,000,000 a year being overlooked, it is easy to see how this can be achieved.

A review and audit of A2P is cost effective, quicker and easily justifiable without large IT investment or resources involved.  A review undertaken by Symmetry Solutions can define the potential loss from grey routes and provide an accurate indicative cost versus investment and projected ROI.