September 22, 2014

There are three techniques that have recently emerged for recording mobile phones in regulated markets outside of the MNO’s network. These solutions have evolved because MNOs have been slow to implement solutions within their own networks. Each of these “out-of-network” techniques come with a number of disadvantages, with advantages being few and far between. The experience for the company trying to record mobile phones and the individual user is far from ideal.

Mobile App

Users can download an ‘app’ directly from their Service Provider. The app provides a call interception and redirection function, effectively intercepting inbound and outbound calls, placing them on hold, dialing a conference bridge, at the end of which is a call recorder, then, once everything is set up, placing the call.

The conference bridge is a fixed DID/DDI that terminates at a call recording server usually via an ISDN or SIP trunk. The recording server typically auto-answers each call that it receives. Vendors that produce the apps typically do not produce the recorders; they just provide the means of pushing the call from the mobile phone to a recorder.

The advantage of this solution is that it works wherever the user is, so recording calls while roaming is widely supported.

The major disadvantage is that the only regulatory compliant app solution is one for Blackberry devices. These are the only devices that have an external management framework (Blackberry Enterprise Server). It is not possible to implement a solution on an iPhone or Android device that provides protection from users deleting the app. Moreover, every call (inbound and outbound) creates an additional outbound call to the conference DID/DDI, which increases call costs. There are frequently delays of several seconds when calls are made or received, which creates a negative end-user experience.

A further disadvantage with this approach is that you need an app for each type of operating system, and Apple iOS does not allow an application of this type on their iPhone. Therefore, if you are an iPhone user this solution is not available for you.

PBX Simultaneous Ring

A second approach is to control the call recording directly through the company’s PBX system using a service called Simultaneous Ring. With this approach, the user gives out a landline number so that all incoming calls are directed through the PBX. The PBX rings all of the user’s devices, and then the user is able to select which device to take the call on. The user is also able to transfer the call between devices. As the call is being routed through the PBX, a traditional fixed-line recorder is sufficient to record the call. PBX vendors produce soft-clients for mobile phones that allow the phone to integrate with the PBX, which then allows users to place outbound calls through the PBX as well.

The advantage of this solution is that the recording is fully integrated with the fixed-line recording already in place at the PBX.

The disadvantage is that if the user only gives out their mobile number and uses the native dialer they bypass the recording. This is not a regulatory compliant solution.

SIM Replacement

The third option is classed as a SIM replacement solution. It is typically operated by mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) who install a recording capability into their network. Companies have to migrate their mobile estate to the MVNO who issues new SIM cards. The subscriber numbers have special routing instructions within the network that ensure the calls are routed through the recorders.

This solution has advantages over an app as it is handset agnostic and cannot be tampered with or bypassed., However, companies first have to migrate their mobile service to a MVNO, and secondly, roaming coverage is usually quite restrictive, which is problematic as regulations state that all calls should be recorded regardless of location.

Conclusion

None of the above solutions have long term viability. This makes them all unsuitable for the finance sector, which is in need of a network-based solution in order to achieve compliance.

A small number of MVNOs have implemented a call recording capability into their networks. Users are obliged to shift their mobile estate to that of the MVNO, which means the instant loss of a customer to the MNO. Many of these MVNO solutions suffer from poor roaming coverage, making them impractical for organizations that operate in multiple countries and whose users travel extensively.