Feeds

Mobile fee dodgers will get away with enough cash to bail out Greece

US code paranoia lets cash trickle through cracks

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Mobile customers are dodging fees running to hundreds of billions of dollars by a combination of accident and design – both facilitated by badly designed billing systems which aren't up to the task. However, US paranoia plays its part too.

The numbers come from Juniper Research and estimate that by 2016 operators will have under-billed punters by almost $300bn globally, enough to pay off half the Greek debt. The operators most at risk are those running networks in Africa and the Middle East, where call records don't always make it back to the billing systems and SIM cloning remains rampant thanks to the US ITAR restrictions.

ITAR, International Traffic in Arms Regulations, is a US regulation which prevents the export of "strong" cryptography to countries America doesn't trust. The GSM standard defines various levels of encryption to authenticate calls, but the US won't allow ITAR-restricted countries to use encryption, so their authentication systems are trivial to break and SIM-cloning is rife.

But Juniper's report doesn't blame the Americans, instead it reckons the end-to-end visibility of billable activities is the solution. Real-time analysis and trend spotting – or "proactive business intelligence" as Juniper would have it – is what African and Middle Eastern operators need.

Operator billing systems are hideous beasts, involving generations of hardware and software lashed together with little more than cable ties and a few lines of Perl. Over the last 10 years or so, the European and American operators have been slowly replacing those tangled monsters with proper billing platforms, with the occasional hiccup, but in many countries that evolution is still in progress.

If one argues that cheap telecommunications stimulates a developing economy – a view the General Secretary of the ITU espouses – then a little fraud is probably worth tolerating, but when it starts to approach even half what the Greeks owe, then something should probably be done. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.