Service Providers increasingly seek reliable ways to better segregate A2P traffic, so that margins can be maximised according to different quality levels. But the challenge is exactly how to measure it. iCONX’s “Rating, Routing & Trading” solution for messaging has the answers…

With the global A2P market expected to reach USD $50bn by 2023*, there seems no end in sight to the booming demand for mobile based services from sectors such as banking, healthcare, e-commerce and retail.
Thanks to its universal reach & interoperability, the ‘classic’ SMS has become the format of choice for enterprises looking to build traction with 6bn+ potential customers worldwide. Such messages may carry a very high importance level for an individual customer (for instance, 2-step authentication, or airline boarding pass logins), or at the other extreme may be running at a mass level in the background (eg bulk advertising campaigns or M2M / IoT driven automated events). Not all A2P are alike!

As a consequence, differential cost and revenue structures have now emerged in the market. For certain types of message the enterprise customer is willing to pay a higher rate for guaranteed “quality” in the delivery chain – with quality being defined by a number of parameters such delivery success, and timeliness. Service providers able to guarantee these quality levels will gain a competitive edge in the market and, provided they manage their supplier base cleverly, achieve higher margins.​​

Quality in a voice environment

In voice, Quality has long benefitted from the availability of multiple network data measurements such as ASR (Answer Seizure Ratio), MHT (Mean Holding Time) and NER (Network Efficiency Ratio). Each individual KPI was perhaps hampered by ‘only doing one thing’, but taken collectively allowed voice network engineers to form an accurate picture of QoS overall, from which supplier selection & routing line-up could be optimised. Fundamentally, the question of Quality in voice is by nature much more complex since the audio quality of a call might be very good, very poor, or anywhere in between – whereas an SMS will either exist or it won’t, and will never suffer from ‘missing letters’ for instance.

Historically, and with flat charges prevailing in P2P, there has been little or no commercial requirement to measure Quality in a messaging environment, until recently.

For all these reasons, the technical methods for measuring Messaging Quality have been far more limited than their voice counterparts. The available measurements themselves are not always robust and ‘hops’ in SMPP networks can compromise data integrity. The arrival of differential charging in A2P exposes the need for something better.

Available methods

iCONX now offers the capability to measure both an “ASR” equivalent and an “MHT” equivalent KPI for messaging purposes. The qse measurements can be used informally in reporting to help guide a user in modifying supplier selection manually, or can be automatically implemented into routing logic.

iCONX is also fully compliant to optimise routing according to the presence of SS7 transmission protocol. This is especially useful as a delivery guarantee to meet the searching requirements of eg. banking customers. Routing can again be optimised for suppliers offering SS7, and (in common with past routing strategies from a voice environment), iCONX can segregate into multiple products with differing Quality levels (eg. SS7 / high quality routes for banking A2P, SMPP / low quality routes for bulk advertising or M2M generated). These also flow through to selling pricelists, where Service Providers wish to offer such products in turn to the open market.

Future innovations

The market is also seeing the emergence of new ways to measure Messaging Quality. These innovations can be expected to proliferate as the industry seeks new and better ways to meet its own evolving requirements. An interesting example is the emergence of “Completion Rates”, which record and report back the level of interaction by end customers with actual messages as an indicator of quality – somewhat akin to newer IP metrics in the Voice industry eg. MOS (Mean Opinion Score), in relying on feedback from actual subscribers, as opposed to network indicators.

More information on Wholesale Messaging Billing Services

To discuss how iCONX can help you better monetise your messaging business activities – and provide a true commercial layer for controlling routing in your SMSC or technical hub – please contact