Life of a EU telecom in a new roaming universe

Roaming free era will be the start of a new and prolific era for mobile operators in Europe, if they are not afraid to be bold and they play their cards right, said Isabelle Paradis, HOT TELECOM president.

Mobile operators have to tackle with 3 key challenges:

Potential significant loss in roaming revenue

The first obvious challenge will be for European mobile operators to fill the gap generated by the decline in roaming revenue. Mobile operators are forecasting a loss of between 1 and 3 per cent in earnings. Another number flying around stipulates that European telecom groups could lose roughly €7 billion in revenue by 2020. These are some staggering numbers to say the least and not really what operators want to deal with, considering that 5G is around the corner and will require considerable investment.

Explosion of roaming traffic

The other side of the roam-like-home coin is the potential explosion of voice and data roaming traffic. That is a definite plus, which could enable operators to make up for the loss of per minute or per Mbyte revenue. However it also comes with a number of downsides for operators who are not equipped to support and transport this sudden spike in traffic.

READ MORE: End of roaming: heavy losses for operators; no price increase announced for the consumers. Yet.

Not only will the number of European silent roamers decline, from an estimated 40% in 2016 to a forecasted 15% in 2020, but more importantly, the usage per roamer will increase to mirror home habits. Thus, based on our estimates, European voice roaming traffic could grow by as much as 2 billion minutes in 2017, while the data roaming traffic is forecasted to double to reach 206 Pbytes. This will have a significant impact on both international and national mobile networks, to the possible detriment of the quality of experience of mobile users.

Considering that with the initial introduction of VoLTE roaming, all traffic will return to the home network before making its way to its final destination, this increase could have a significant impact on mobile operators and IPX networks.

Unmet customer expectations and VoLTE complexity

With the promise of roam-like-home type pricing models comes the expectation of receiving the same quality of experience, which also means access at all time. This may become increasingly difficult to offer, as the traffic soars on networks that are not built to support it.

READ MORE: With roaming charges gone, how is the mobile world changing for European carriers and consumers?

Additionally, the introduction of VoLTE in a growing number of markets in Europe adds a level of complexity to the equation. VoLTE roaming’s operational and business models are not yet agreed upon between the different mobile operators and their IPX providers and is a complex affair. The ultimate VoLTE roaming architecture, which is called local break-out, enables the home network to control the call routing, hence its quality.

THE REALITY OF LIFE AFTER ROAM-LIKE-HOME

This new roaming reality therefore adds a layer of complexity to mobile operators’ daily operation and forces them to move up a notch when it comes to the following requirements:

Cost-efficiency: With reduced revenue and margins comes the need for cost efficiency in terms of network, operations and traffic routing. This can be achieved through virtualization and the use of solutions in the cloud, with pay as you go types of business models.

Flexibility: With rapidly shifting roaming traffic patterns comes the need for flexibility and the ability to quickly activate capacity, all in a very efficient way. Add to this the capability to support multiple technologies, 3G, 4G and WiFi, as well as evolving business models, per minute or per capacity for example. These are necessary steps to ensure the highest quality of experience possible.

Real-time intelligence: We now live in a world where everything is expected now, in real-time, from everywhere and on any device. We also expect a hyper-personalized self-controlled communication experience at all times, at home or abroad.

To deliver this type of always-on high quality of experience, operators must have transparency and real-time information on their customers’ activities, which is a great challenge when roaming. Therefore, real-time intelligence roaming tools are now a crucial part of an operator’s weaponry to provide a true roam-like-home level of customer experience.

IPX PROVIDERS AT THE CENTER OF THE ROAM-LIKE-HOME 360º EXPERIENCE

IPX providers, by nature, are perfectly positioned to support the different features, tools and capabilities to help mobile operators deliver a true high quality roam-like-home 360º experience. Principally, they offer the following 4 key components to a high quality, efficient roaming service:

Scalable network: Most of the major IPX providers have rapidly scalable, high quality networks already connected to most mobile operators in Europe. This therefore enables them, through their roaming hub, to support exponential traffic spikes, while maintaining high quality and security, almost from day one.

As a result, this reduces the risk of degrading the quality that comes with congested networks, while offering a pay as you go solution. Source

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