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30 March 2023

Effective origin-based routing requires meeting a data management challenge

In the first two blogs in this three-part series, we investigated the reasons for the ongoing rise of origin-based routing and steps operators must take to keep pace with the trend. Now, we’ll look specifically at one of the major challenges OBR presents; that of data management.

As we’ve established, there’s been a global decline in telephony ARPU in recent years and reversing this downward trend is a pressing issue for operators. In part, it’s what has fuelled the shift to origin-based routing, making its efficient deployment an increasingly important task.

However, accruing the benefits that OBR can deliver isn’t a straightforward process. It requires that operators must be able to accurately differentiate network traffic from multiple sources and be assured that the information they access in terms of call origin is always 100% accurate.  Furthermore, they must be able to view this information in real-time, and with a sufficient degree of accuracy that subsequent charging and routing decisions can be made with complete confidence.

Until they can do that, origin-based routing is a good idea that will fall short of delivering on its potential.

Traffic differentiation starts with data

The reasons why this is the case are clear. The operator that can differentiate traffic in real-time can not only apply the right call charges based on termination fees to a specific destination accurately before an event takes place, but will also be able to route calls far more efficiently. While that’s a desirable outcome, taking the necessary steps to achieve it is challenging. Why?

Principally because the sheer volume of data required, data that must be collected, processed, and analysed in order to direct call routing and charging as effectively as possible isn’t straightforward. In the case of an international supplier, an operator will likely hold thousands of different prices in its rate tables any or all of which it must be able to access on demand.

Those operators who aren’t in position to do this – presently many, particularly among smaller operators - risk incurring unnecessary (and prohibitive) surcharges that eat into ARPU (and precious margins). When the operator can’t easily navigate its rate plans because they rely on manual processes and legacy systems can’t cope with the volumes of data necessary to apply best practice origin-based routing, risk exposure and reality collide.

Effective origin-based routing depends on efficient data processing

This situation leaves the operator in a position in which Origin Based Routing, though desirable in theory, is put at risk in practice because all the data inputs necessary for the selective, optimal handling of network traffic cannot be effectively managed. Best practice necessitates that a fine degree of granularly detailed information is available before, not after, routing and charging decisions are made if unnecessary costs and charges are to be avoided and origin-aware pricing structures are to be realised.

At present, for operators who’ve not been able to overcome the data challenge, it’s still possible to mitigate some risks in this area, but not to accrue the full benefits of origin-based decision making.

Best practice origin-based routing: common challenges

So, we’ve established that to fully leverage the opportunity that origin-based routing affords, operators must overcome a challenge of data management. This challenge has various aspects, of which three are key:

1 Data extraction

The information that provides the necessary inputs for OBR is generally sourced from multiple different locations within the operator’s infrastructure and comes in many different data formats. It has to be extracted, normalised, and, to deliver value, cross referenced. For instance, the determination of a calling number is related to the identification of signalling formats. Without signalling information, surcharges will be unavoidable. A system capable of handling this process must be in place.

2 Data validity and accuracy

Even after processing, issues with number presentation and particularly with number validity often remain. With inaccurate number information, routing (origin-based or otherwise) is compromised. This is another data issue that must be addressed.

3 Fraud prevention

We know that telecoms fraud is increasingly common and a serious problem for operators.  Addressing it in part also lies in the management of the same routing data. Many types of fraud stem from masking a call’s origin and when this “spoofing” occurs, operators can only counter it by taking steps to verify accurately the originating call number. Failure to do so leads to operational penalties and prohibitive termination fees both of which impact on the profitability of the business.

Data processing for efficient OBR handling

Meeting the challenge of organising data to support efficient origin-based routing isn’t, as we’ve already said, straightforward. Ingesting and processing raw data with multiple dimensions and from a wide array of sources is overwhelming for many legacy infrastructures not designed for the purpose. Yet operators who want to maximise the commercial benefits that OBR affords have little choice but to find, and deploy, a capable solution.

One established approach is Carrier Cloud from Digitalk. Carrier Cloud is designed from first principles to manage routing data efficiently – accounting for the wide variety of ways origin and rate information may be expressed and stored, regardless of location.

Carrier Cloud fully supports OBR optimisation and delivers optimal rating mechanics. It immediately upgrades the management of Origin Based routing, driving both efficiency gains and reduced costs.

With its advanced Origin Based Rating, Routing and Billing functions, import of any rate plan is considerably simplified. In addition, Digitalk offers a range of highly effective integrated simulation tools to easily diagnose OBR scenarios. They ensure 100% reliability of rating and routing prior to the introduction of live traffic.  

Particularly because the market hasn’t yet converged on a standard way of presenting OBR, Carrier Cloud enables operators to immediately automate processes that are presently unwieldy and complex, regardless of the way in which the necessary raw data is presented.

Carrier Cloud also provides insight into origin-based breakouts, allowing users to obtain a normalised, harmonised view of all rating operations so they can quickly access a full picture of their processes. This information supports the generation of optimised routing plans, based on origin as well as destination. Calls can be always routed to the best available carrier, whether origin is a factor or not.

Carrier Cloud from Digitalk simplifies access to and understanding of the enormous datasets that contain the raw information on which establishing best practice relies.

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