USSD: A threat to A2P SMS revenues?

USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) which was the primary messaging system used by subscribers to check their balance, top-up and access value-added services. Still widely used today, USSD communication (which rests primarily on signalling infrastructure – not data) is now currently being used to terminate A2P communication. 

Typically, this type of communication was the reserve of SMS messaging, whereby A2P messaging was terminated primarily using SMS; now, USSD messaging is taking hold, and gaining popularity to terminate A2P traffic effectively, and ‘leaking’ away traffic and revenues yet again from the Operators. 

How can USSD be used to terminate A2P traffic?

For companies to use USSD may not be that simple. They need to deal with a vendor (with access to USSD) or find a work-around to access it directly, which would potentially be an illegal effort. Companies are increasingly using USSD messaging today due to price arbitraging, whereby they can terminate traffic using cheaper methods than the formal, authorised routes.  In this scenario, the operator is challenged when it comes to monitoring or firewalling this messaging platform.  The result is rather simple: Operators are losing money on their A2P traffic. This is set to increase drastically in the future.

ussd bypass message example a2p monetisation opportunities

What can Operators do to monetise A2P traffic correctly?

A2P Monetisation is a complicated business. Operators can protect this revenue stream by engaging true A2P Firewall vendors with expertise in monitoring, managing and monetising this type of traffic. An A2P Firewall can monitor, filter and price traffic emanating from international/Out of Network and also on-net, whether it being SMS, USSD or other messaging means – to correctly capture the revenues generated for the operator. 

Therefore, the solution is:

  • Commercially control USSD and enhance pricing strategy;
  • Live monitoring and filtering of USSD content;
  • Fully integrate USSD and SMS into your A2P strategy;

Widening the value-chain for A2P Monetisation

Ultimately, the scope for operators rests on monetising traffic, irrespective of it being SMS or USSD message. What is of consequence is the scope of the message – such as an A2P message for 2FA or a notification message, which would determine the price. Consequently –with the right partnerships, operators can widen their A2P Monetisation value-chain, capture all revenues – and ensure healthy growth to this business opportunity.

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To get more information about how HAUD can aid with preventing SIM box traffic from diluting your A2P SMS revenues.