Research from Tyntec, a mobile services company, and analyst firm Mobilesquared found that mobile operators are experiencing a boon in app-to-person (A2P) messaging to the tune of up to 36 percent growth year-over-year. The study said two-thirds of the traffic comes from unauthorized gray routes, and Tyntec believes blocking those could be an opportunity to monetize A2P messaging to a possible $60 billion by 2018.
The study surveyed 25 mobile network operators on A2P growth and origin, as well as network security. Results found that more than half (56 percent) of the operators were seeing growth in A2P messaging in the past 12 months, up from 49 percent in 2014. Of those experiencing an uptick, growth rates varied between 6 and 36 percent year-over-year.
"The A2P is unique because it's usable in every mobile network worldwide, and it's the easiest way to get to the customer," said Tyntec's Stefan Kuehne, director of carrier relations, of the upswing in traffic.
Earlier this week, Tyntec, along with infrastructure company Cellusys, debuted a firewall meant to address the 66 percent of gray route A2P traffic in the hopes of allowing operators to earn revenue from the messages. The firewall screens traffic via phone verification and content filtering in order to block any businesses that are using gray routes to deliver messages. The companies are then forced to connect with operators in order to have their messages delivered, at which point the network operator is able to charge for that service. In addition, the firewall makes networks more secure and protects subscribers from spam and spoof messages.
According to the Tyntec-backed report, when firewalls are in use, roughly two-thirds of mobile operators find them to be effective in blocking unsecure and unauthorized gray route A2P traffic. A quarter of networks have reported increased revenue as a direct result of firewall use.
On the other hand, the firewalls are not 100 percent positive. A quarter of those networks using firewalls reported that the software "has caused operational problems by blocking some of the wanted traffic."
"If you establish a firewall, you must be really, really careful of the rules you implement," Kuehne told FierceWirelessTech. "What we did, we really put a focus on a toolkit where you can try the rules and see how it's going to work."
Tyntec's firewall uses a variety of customizable attributes, including hardware, software and firewall management, that operators can toggle to ensure they're blocking and monetizing the most content while avoiding disruption of services that customers do want.
Kuehne believes that monetization of A2P could make up for losses providers are seeing from P2P due to over-the-top messaging apps like WhatsApp. He said that focus on regaining P2P revenue is why more than 75 percent of network operators have failed to take advantage of firewalls that could lead to A2P monetization.
"In two or three years, this will be a hot topic," Kuehne said. "Not just for protecting networks, but also for bringing in revenue."
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