5G deployment and adoption are gathering pace as we get ready to welcome the new year. At the same time, the general population is becoming more mobile after 2+ years of travel restrictions and lockdowns, resulting in an urgency for the 5G service providers to allow a seamless roaming experience across geographies. 5G roaming monetization
But how will a 5G network meet the promise of 5G speeds and capabilities, when a subscriber is roaming away from their home network?
In 4G technology, a data connection was always anchored in the home network. For example, if an AT&T USA subscriber roams in the UK and tries accessing a local weather channel in the UK, then the data connection would be established from the UK to the AT&T server in the USA and back again to the UK-based weather service. This puts a heavy strain on the network resources required to support bandwidth for roaming users, besides introducing delays, thus impacting the service experience for the user.
5G addresses this problem by introducing a new solution for roaming, called Local Breakout or LBO. In this case, the data session of a roaming subscriber is anchored in the local network they’re visiting.
When a roaming A&T subscriber tries to access a local weather channel in the UK, they are authenticated by the home network in the USA, but the data connection between the device and the weather channel remains localized to the roaming/visited network in the UK. This enables a user to experience a 5G service the same as, or close to, their experience in a home network.
Now, the network capabilities, bandwidth, or service prioritization may not always match the home and visited network. Besides, the service the user is trying to access may not be localized or delay-tolerant. In such cases, it may be beneficial to haul the traffic back to the home network. For such cases, the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) has retained the option of anchoring a data session in a home network while roaming. This is called Home Routed Roaming.