Skip to main content

The behind-the-scenes story of the tools and operations that keep Application 2 Person (A2P) messaging a trusted, secure channel was the subject of an insightful Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) webinar conducted live on Feb. 16th.

Sponsored by netnumber Global Data Services and moderated by James Williams, Director of Programs at MEF, the webinar panel featured two key players in the messaging ecosystem:

  • John Coleman, VP of Sales at netnumber Global Data Services
  • Stefan Heller, VP of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at The Campaign Registry

A2P messaging, also known as enterprise SMS, is a key enabler of richer, more satisfying and personalized customer communications. With incredible speed, consumers can receive and respond to text messages from their favorite brands or businesses, never realizing the complex journey these messages traverse to arrive quickly and securely.

Before that message ever appears on the customer’s mobile device, it has passed through a variety of sophisticated number validation and screening processes to ensure it is sent by a legitimate business source, routed properly and protected against evolving security threats.

Representatives from two of the central players in that process – The Campaign Registry (TCR), the reputation authority for business messaging, and netnumber Global Data Services, the world-leading provider of accurate, reliable and secure phone number intelligence data, came together in the webinar to shed light on how customer messaging works, including discussions on how and why brands are verified, phone numbers are identified, and robust registries are employed to support the ecosystem with real-time provisioning, distribution and fraud prevention advantages.

Ultimately, the text messaging ecosystem seeks to optimize A2P strategies and protect against evolving security threats to ensure trust is maintained in the messaging channel or risk losing out on the value it holds for businesses across the globe.

Key A2P Webinar Highlights

The webinar kicked off with a discussion of TCR’s purpose and origins, along with the industry’s adoption of 10-digit long codes (10 DLC) for messaging.

Heller, a key figure at TCR, said in the early days of business messaging, carriers didn’t have a standardized system for identifying and routing messaging numbers. “Carriers needed to know more about the numbers coming across their networks. Who do these numbers belong to, and how are they routed?” Heller said. It became clear that a registration process was needed, along with guidelines (Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) guidelines were chosen), to create a uniform process for business messaging.

This led to the creation of TCR, which works with North American mobile operators and companies in the messaging business to register A2P text messaging campaigns.  It was also determined to adopt a 10 DLC format for business messaging to clear up issues that had occurred with the previous long number format.

“The 10-digit long codes are sanctioned digital traffic that originated in the wild west of long codes,” quipped Heller. TCR created a trackable registration process, allowing mobile carriers to provide a more reliable and predictable messaging service for Campaign Service Providers (CSPs) and brands. Essentially, TCR gives carriers better visibility into messaging sources and use cases, which enables them to ensure proper routing and to better protect consumers from bad actors and scams.

How netnumber Global Data Services Enables Fast, Secure A2P

A pivotal player in that process – netnumber Global Data Services – hosts the netnumber Services Registry (nnSR), an industry database that publishes dedicated service information for individual phone numbers. Through this service, the company plays a key role in empowering communications capabilities and messaging services.

“We have built a lot of the services in the U.S. around netnumber’s integral nnSR systems,” said Heller. “It’s a very important part of ensuring the registration goes through smoothly. Obviously, if the campaign isn’t associated with (validated) numbers or the numbers aren’t associated with the campaign, nothing is going to go through. It’s critically important.”

Coleman acknowledged netnumber GDS’s contribution and discussed the magnitude of the North American messaging ecosystem. “A lot of folks don’t realize the complexity underneath messaging,” he said, referring to expansive number verification and routing processes.  He cited number portability issues, for example. “In North America, there are 950 million active telephone numbers. About 55% of those are ported to a different carrier,” he said. “Being able to take vast sets of data and to deliver an answer (number verification) in milliseconds. Not just the number, but the assets around it, that’s critical.”

It’s also a crucial piece of messaging fraud prevention – a hot industry topic discussed during the panel discussion. “We’re seeing a lot more sophisticated plays in the fraud world coming into messaging as a whole,” said Williams, who runs the MEF Fraud and Revenue Assurance Group.

Trust: A Critical Piece of A2P For Brands and End Users Alike 

Panel members noted that many advanced checks and screening processes already exist to ensure proper and safe message routing, but more are likely on the horizon.

“We are right now in the process of setting up data sharing agreements with spam filtering organizations,” said Heller, noting this will provide another step in TCR’s campaign verification and fraud prevention process.

Coleman noted that maintaining trust among all messaging parties remains a top priority.

“It all comes back to ‘how do we provide trust to messaging users? On the brand side, they want to deliver good messages and to ensure that they reach the intended recipient, and the users want those messages and the information they need from those brands and the value they bring. It’s all around making sure that messaging info is valid and good.”

Subscribe to MEFTV

For more unique interviews, opinions, panels and webinars, subscribe to the MEFTV YouTube channel, and stay up to date with MEF Members and the global mobile ecosystem.