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MEF Director of Programmes James Williams shares an overview of the recent panel session recorded during MEF CONNECTS Wholesale, exploring the importance of scalability and differentiation in the wholesale market. The panel, and all the other sessions, are available to view on demand now.

For a good number of years, people have seen me as the walking embodiment of an SMS! I have been a fan of the humble text message for many years as I have seen first-hand so many times how powerful this digital channel is and how many concrete benefits it can bring organisations of all sizes and shapes – wherever they might be – really easily. SMS is a channel more than five billion people globally have access to and it’s something they inherently feel comfortable with. No smartphone required, no internet connection needed.

Watch the Panel in full

No wonder then that businesses are latching on to SMS as an important channel to use in their client communications stack. I would never advise any business to roll using just one channel (even if it is SMS!) but if a business is not using SMS at all then they surely are missing out on a trick. We look at our phones 150 times a day or more and receiving a text is something that magnetically draws us to pick up our devices to check out the content that has just arrived. No wonder open rates for SMS are sky high then!

Mention the word ‘wholesale’ in the Telecommunications domain and many will jump straight to thinking about Voice and SMS. Yet Wholesale is about far more than this and this was reflected by topics as diverse as 5G, capitalising on efficiencies, security and moving Wholesale to services being covered during MEF CONNECTS Wholesale 2021. But SMS just had to be in there and we had a session looking at the area of scale and differentiation within it.  I really wanted to moderate this session! Joining me to look at the area were:

Industry bodies like MEF can pull together views and help develop common frameworks. MNOs can deploy proven Firewall technology delivered under a comprehensive managed service, Aggregators should quality check the traffic they carry and Enterprise should have a clear contact strategy when using A2P. All parties in the ecosystem have a role to play

  • Malick Dibba, Founder & CEO – Alchemy Telco Ltd
  • Taha Jiwaji, Founder & CEO – Beem
  • Eamonn Dullaghan, Head of Wholesale, Europe – Infobip
  • Larissa Ryndik, Procurement and Routing Director – Intis Telecom
  • Dimitri Repinec, Product Management, Development & Strategy – MTN Global Connect

Rather than me talking about the ground covered during the conversation, I find it’s far better to hear from the speakers so this is what Eamonn had to say: “When we look at scale & differentiation in the Wholesale SMS market, we can see how the current commercial model has been so successful. There are 5.3bn unique mobile phone users in the world, and each can receive an A2P SMS. As Head of Wholesale in Infobip, a large part of our role is providing scale to the market, in terms of high-quality connectivity to over 650 operators and billions of subscribers. We then look to our customers – the wholesale channel – to provide the differentiation. Wholesale is populated by innovative, entrepreneurial players who tend to specialise in a particular vertical segment or geographic market. This gives them a unique insight into the needs of their business customers. Our challenge is to continue leveraging our scale, keeping pace with our wholesale clients to continue growing this business together.”

Given so few businesses today ACTUALLY use SMS there is clearly tremendous scope for growth in the Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS market.

Larissa from Intis Telecom really works at the coalface of the business, managing all the routing and procurement, and agreed on the headroom for growth saying: “We see further great potential for A2P SMS messaging, particularly in relation to transactional and informative use cases” but cautioned: “However mobile operators need to maintain a strict but admittedly often difficult balance between security and ease of use – of course all whilst offering reasonable prices. The commercial model is key to sustaining the channel. Fail to do these things and operators will all too easily see some of their A2P SMS traffic move to OTT and alternative channels”.

Brian from Anam has worked at the forefront of A2P SMS security and monetisation for some time and obviously was the person to stress the importance of security in the industry! “Everything that has a monetary value needs to be protected. As A2P SMS messaging grows in popularity and usage it too needs to be protected to ensure its long-term viability by being a quality communication channel. All stake holders in the value chain have an obligation to ensure this is done through their own actions and by holding others to account. Industry bodies like MEF can pull together views and help develop common frameworks. MNOs can deploy proven Firewall technology delivered under a comprehensive managed service, Aggregators should quality check the traffic they carry and Enterprise should have a clear contact strategy when using A2P. All parties in the ecosystem have a role to play.”

I definitely like Brian’s last point. Every stakeholder across the ecosystem has a role to play in protecting SMS channels and ultimately consumers. Without consumer trust, we as an industry are nothing. No individual stakeholder group has the right to point their finger at another until their own house is perfectly in order. And in a world of constantly shifting threat vectors, with new ones popping up all the time, that is a tough ask indeed…

Malick Dibba is the Founder and CEO of CPaaS provider Alchemy in Gambia (Africa) and always gets straight to the point: “As the world moves further into digital economies, some will be using 5G others will have no connectivity but what they will all have in common is a mobile phone and SMS, a tool that will verify A2A commands and to be used as P2P communication.”

So many of us in the industry talk about 5G, rich communication channels like RCS and the like but at the end of the day, Mobile as a whole is about connecting as many people across the world as possible, to truly improve the daily lives of people everywhere. I’ve been proud to have played a tiny role in this for the past 30 years and next year will be the 30th year the ubiquitous channel of SMS has had a much bigger role to play in it! SMS will be with us for a good number of years to come for sure and its near future where A2P communication is concerned is very bright indeed!

James Williams

Director of Programmes, MEF


MEF Connects Wholesale On Demand

This year’s MEF CONNECTS WHOLESALE focused on industry topics and opportunities that both support the Wholesale business today and will set the scene for the Wholesale industry of tomorrow, exploring how carriers can embrace the 5G opportunity in terms of both the infrastructure required to enable it and also the solutions it can provide.

Over 2 days MEF CONNECTS WHOLESALE brought together representatives of wholesale forums and associations to provide you with insights and views on the various initiatives currently being undertaken to improve cross-carrier business efficiency in the industry and wholesale fraud and security.

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