Indian SMS voting problems: an experts view

Following on from the blog entry about riots over SMS voting problems in India, Rajive Chandra, the Regional Director for Asia Pacific at Airwide Solutions, has put pen to paper and written an interesting article about what mobile operators can do to restore public confidence.

Here’s what he had to say:

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“While mobile messaging has been seeing explosive growth worldwide, no region has seen greater growth than Asia. One reason for this is because consumers in Asia are highly price sensitive and use text messaging as an alternative to voice due to it being more economical, particularly when roaming. In this region, text messages have become a part of everyday life, with billions being sent each day. They are easy and offer consumers a powerful medium with which to interact with brands and traditional media such as TV. However, with 80 per cent of handsets permanently switched on, consumers expect that their messages are delivered instantly and reliably - a challenge for operators whose infrastructures sometimes struggle to keep up with explosive messaging growth, particularly with applications that can generate tremendous bursts of traffic.

In order to retain customers and revenues from voting and other applications, a mobile operator’s infrastructure cannot afford to be congested. Operators need a messaging infrastructure that can balance the messaging load on the SMSCs (Short Messaging Service Centers) and cost effectively add capacity to support peaks in activity such as those that occur during special occasions such as Chinese New Year, large sporting events or popular interactive television shows. However, the mobile infrastructure across Asia varies widely and corresponds with how long mobile networks have existed in these countries.

In India, mobile operators are learning from the successes and mistakes of the more developed markets. On the positive side, they have invested and expanded their infrastructure, enabling them to leapfrog operators in more advanced markets with less efficient, higher cost legacy infrastructure. They have been able to offer lower prices to the market which has in turn provided a springboard to creating very fast growth in demand among new mobile subscribers.

However, mobile operators now need to take the next step towards deploying a tiered intelligent mobile messaging architecture that includes first delivery attempt (FDA) routers that add scalable capacity to SMSCs.  Tiered FDA architectures monitor messaging traffic and dynamically manage storage, delivery and prioritization of text messages to prevent downtime during peak and off-peak periods while saving operators millions of dollars.

For example, an operator who handles up to 10,000 messages per second between 6 and 7pm will usually buy an SMSC (costing as much as $10 million) that can handle the peak load, preventing any downtime. But if normal messaging traffic hovers around 5,000 messages per second for the remaining hours of the day, the operator has deployed a platform that is larger and more expensive than it really needs. 

Tiered architectures enable operators to configure a mobile messaging system that meets the operator’s daily traffic needs. They can detect when traffic levels approach pre-determined thresholds and then dynamically route messages that are time sensitive and those that can wait until the congestion clears.  This capability enables operators to handle high-volume events such as interactive voting on Indian Pop Idol but not invest in unnecessary messaging capacity. Instead of deploying a system based on peak traffic, the operator can install one based on average traffic at a fraction of the cost, yet still have the capability to handle peak loads.

As messaging volumes expand, operators need to respond to consumer behaviour by coping with both peaks and troughs in activity. Whilst recent events such as the recent text voting scandal in India can cause mobile users to be wary of text messaging services, mobile operators can take a proactive stance to deliver on their promises.  Tiered FDA architectures also level the playing field so small, medium and large operators can all manage traffic efficiently and affordably.”

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Very interesting read, and a lot of food for thought.

Submitted by KatrinVerclas on Wed, 2007-06-13 15:34.