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SAP ‘Grecian 2000’ helps removes those grey routes

Grey routes allow mobile callers dialing internationally to get around standard connections, and avoid fees—up to 40 percent of a European operator’s international traffic. A new solution from SAP blocks the cheaters.

Like aging film stars, mobile operators worry about grey routes.

Grey routes get their moniker from the same place as "grey imports," those electronics (Sony PS Vita TV), games (the fabled Super Mario RPG), or albums (for me, Francis Dunnery’s initially Japan-only release of Welcome to the Wild Country) that are only sold in certain countries. If you happen to live elsewhere, then you either jump on a plane, or find a "grey importer" to bypass the restriction.

For mobile operators, grey routes are where traffic that originates internationally manages to bypass the standard interconnection routes, thus appearing to be locally originated. For the operator, there is a significant loss of revenue, but equally, the quality of those grey routes can be unpredictable, so any enterprise using that connection risks very poor quality of service.

Here’s a great primer on grey routes, and here’s more about the scale of problem.

Here’s the shocking bit from that article: According to Claire Cassar, CEO of HAUD, operators know about revenue leakage from grey routes and typically accept a level of attrition to it of around five to ten per cent of international traffic. “But in our profiling this year we found that one major European operator was experiencing around 40 per cent of all international traffic coming via grey routes. That works out as tens of millions of Euros of lost revenue,” she said.

One solution to this problem is the content control solution built into the SAP (full disclosure: my employer) SMS hub. Here’s the press release with all the details.

The solution is already blocking a million messages a day, and that’s for just the initial subset of customers who are now covered by the service.

In addition to grey routes, it also detects spam—including a recent major credit card phishing attack targeting several U.S. operators. By preventing the SMS associated with the attack from ever reaching subscribers, SAP prevented what could have been a huge wave of credit card fraud.

Unlike the spam filter on your email inbox, a network solution has many advantages. For the consumer, it requires no configuration, and works with every mobile. Additionally, when you look at spam at the network level, you can identify trends across all traffic, not just at the individual inbox level, and attacks (such as phishing) become much easier to spot.

One of the reasons that SMS continues to thrive is that it continues to be read (and read quickly) by consumers. If SMS spam was ever to reach the levels I see on some of my web-based email services, then that would no longer hold true. So anything that helps hold back the tide of spam is a good thing for the industry, and a good thing for the consumer.