More than 700 GSM networks across the world offer text messaging. A new hub-based interoperability scheme currently undergoing trials is expected to substantially reduce sending and receiving obstacles. Instigator of the scheme is the GSM Association, which has just completed the second phase of trials for the interoperability structure.
First unveiled in February 2006, the GSMA's new structure will deliver major operational and financial efficiencies to mobile operators by removing the need to reach time-consuming bilateral inter-working agreements. Now that the trials are complete, the GSMA expects operators to begin using the hub system for live delivery of commercial text messages in the next few weeks, enabling them to extend to the international SMS service covering the full GSM community and beyond.
More than one trillion text messages were sent globally last year and international traffic is growing rapidly, placing pressure on operators to replace the existing web of bilateral agreements with a more efficient structure for the delivery of messages across the GSM networks in 215 countries and territories.
Under the new structure operators will only have to connect once to a hub to reach all the other networks connected to that hub. Moreover, through interconnect arrangements between hubs they will be able to reach operators connected to other hubs. This combined solution ensures that operators and their customers will benefit from a high level of service quality, including reliable delivery reports, protection against spam, security, billing and settlement, while maintaining the independence of each operator to determine its own pricing structures.
The second phase of the hubbing trial began in early September and involved 26 operators in more than 20 countries, spanning four continents. Thirteen SMS hub providers also took part in the trial: Aicent, Belgacom ICS, Clickatell, CITIC Telecom 1616, Comfone, Radius-ED, MACH/End2End, Mobile 365, Syniverse Technologies, Telecom Italia Sparkle, TeliaSonera, Tyntec and VeriSign.
Operators involved in the large-scale second phase of the trial commented on the results:
"The progress made in the latest trial demonstrates the value of the open hubbing system for operators in managing SMS traffic and delivering high-quality international messaging services to mobile consumers," Bill Hague, EVP of International Network Operations, Cingular Wireless (USA);
"With the shared open standards of the hubbing systems, we can now look forward to a new era of simplified, cost-effective and streamlined SMS delivery," Claus R Nielsen Sr, Advisor to Smart Communications (Philippines);
"With open SMS hubbing, operators can simply and quickly bring to market broad-reaching messaging services, without lengthy contract negotiations, billing procedures, and network testing and configuration. CMCC had, as early as December 2002, launched international SMS for its customers using an SMS hubbing platform which largely conforms to the current SMS hubbing model drafted and promoted by GSMA. CMCC has benefited from it throughout several years of operation. We are very pleased and encouraged by the success of these latest trials and look forward to the system shortly becoming a technical and commercial reality," Junming Shao, Project Manager for International Services, China Mobile;
"SMS hubbing makes life easier for operators when it comes to SMS interworking, reducing efforts in terms of time and resources such as in agreement negotiation, billing, testing, and quality monitoring. Thanks to the open SMS hubbing guidelines defined by the GSMA, operators can get large numbers of SMS interworking relationships globally in a shorter timeframe than by using bilateral negotiation. Operators are thus facilitated in focussing their efforts on delivering added value to their customers," Lucy Lombardi, EMC member Telecom Italia; and
"The success of this latest trial paves the way for a new era of cost-effective SMS connectivity among operators. The hub system provides a secure, open standards system for operators that takes the headache out of inter-working, while also delivering significant cost-savings and improved network efficiencies. With the trials complete, we now look forward to seeing the benefits when the system goes live before the end of this year," Ashok Juneja, Corporate Director, Network Technology & Projects, Airtel (India).