“SMS remains the number one mode of communication for A2P traffic”
Ahmad Alkemmar, CEO – Viahub
Interview – Gulraiz Khalid
Gulraiz Khalid: Could you briefly explain what Viahub is doing for the telecommunications sector?
Ahmad Alkemmar: If you are sending an SMS from your Middle East number to a country like Zimbabwe and your mobile operator doesn’t have a roaming agreement with the operator in Zimbabwe, the message needs to go through another hub instead of going directly, and Viahub is one of the leading best options available in that category today. Basically what we do is that we take the message from your operator and deliver it to Zimbabwe and vice versa. We are also providing SMS services to Enteprise Customers and we are setting a benchmark when it comes to reliability for the enterprise market.
GK: What is your major competitive advantage in the SMS business?
AA: Viahub is strongly focused in quality and customer service. We care a lot about our customers and we are strongly believers in good quality as it has always led to a good position in the market for us. Our commitment to quality means that we ensure the delivery of all messages. Being constantly reliable and expeditious in message delivery are the two key KPIs for our company and we have always done our best in these areas.
We have a state of the art platform. Our platform and our routing engine allows us to make sure that each time we want to deliver any message anywhere in the world, it is delivered. We have a mechanism that allows us to monitor and test that our routes are performing and delivering as per requirement. Constant monitoring allows us to ensure delivery and usage of efficient and speedy routes.
AA: OTT is definitely growing and effecting the overall environment. There are a lot of factors to be considered and I wouldn’t say that OTTs are really negatively affectingus. First of all, as the mobile usage and mobile subscribers continue to increase around the world, there is first of all a direct increase in demand and usage of SMS before any OTT or Internet because not every subscriber uses it and while most subscribers do, the market continues to increase yet still as long as the number of users are increasing.
Secondly, SMS still remains a very reliable source of contact, especially to customers. There are a few reasons for this – firstly, SMS messages are usually read very quickly, and secondly, it’s a sure way of ensuring that the recipient gets the message, unlike email where the message could go into SPAM or JUNK or simply not be read until a day later.
OTTs are mainly affecting user to user communication. However, from a business to consumer communications perspective (a phenomenon which is already on the rise) SMS remains the number one mode of communication.
AA: Yes, OTTs have also actually positively affected the SMS business. OTTs provide user insights and big data to companies, and also support the ecosystem for Real Time Offering based on a user’s location, however the mechanism to make this offer to the user is in most cases through SMS.
SMS is a very secure and reliable way. Some people believe OTTs have reduced SMS but in fact they themselves have directly increased SMS. A testament to the reliability of SMS is the fact that even OTT companies themselves use SMS for mobile verification and pin codes etc.
I believe that OTT will continue to affect P2P traffic but not A2P. I am quite sure that the A2P market will continue to be successful in the coming period as Enterprise Customers have a lot of trust in this type of communication.
AA: Yes in fact, the A2P market is growing by 11% to 12% every year. The SMS market in general is also increasing, largely due to the reasons I already explained to you. As a fact, by 2017/18, the market is forecasted to reach 18.2 trillion sms per year
User behavior regarding SMS is changing but it is not only due to the increase SMS. A mobile user is being targeted by all sides these days, however many users are in fact are interested in the SMS messages even more because many important messages are sent through SMS today such as messages from the Bank or the Government.
GK: Can we expect Viahub to be expanding further into the Middle East region in the near future?
AA: Yes, the goal of our new office in UAE is to focus on the Middle East and North Africa. We see great potential in this region – its growing fast and we already have the routes, the infrastructure and the capabilities to be one of the big players in this region. We know people who understand the culture and we can be part of this growing market. Overall, we have big hopes for Viahub in this region and we are looking forward to a bright future ahead!