23/11/2005

Global telcos losing billions to fraud - Network IT Week

Global telcos losing billions to fraud - Network IT Week

Revenue assurance is a big problem for telecom operators, fraud plays a big part (as does just plain non-payment by customers), but there are other reasons.

When operators exchange traffic (usually with SS7 interconnects) what one operator thinks they've sent and what the other operator think they've received (or vice versa) rarely agree. Switches may "lose" data records, or records are mispriced (telcoms switches produce what's called CDRs or call data records).

Mediation systems have to be built which analyse the CDRs and then price them accordingly. It's easy to leak revenue in the mediation process.

In order to ensure SS7 traffic is billed correctly complicated equipment needs to be installed into the links to "snoop" call traffic and then this data can be compared to what the switch thinks has gone through. This gets extremely difficult when operators are exchaning traffic with multiple other operators using different ones for different routes. If an operators switches traffic to the wrong one, the costs can rapidly mean they are losing money.

Currently most traditional operators still use SS7 and though complicated it's relatively easy to track what's going on. With new age entrants on the scene and traditional operators moving to what's known as "softswitches" the traffic is moving from legacy telco connecitons to all IP connections. This will give much greater flexibility, but in the short-term at least is likely to cause more revenue leackage until the tools are developed to track IP calls and interconnects.
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