Operators urged to embrace roaming innovation - Mobile World Live

Operators urged to embrace roaming innovation

24 MAY 2019

LIVE FROM WEMEET EUROPE 2019, CASCAIS, PORTUGAL: Mobile operators have yet to embrace the kind of innovation which has taken place elsewhere when it comes to roaming services, a panel of executives said.

In much of the world, the roaming market has undergone significant transformation in recent years, driven in no small part by changes in regulation altering the nature of the business.

“What has happened in the last couple of years because of roam like home in the EU, is that other parts of the world are following a similar pattern of bringing down the rates. So the transformation that is happening in the industry is that you are seeing lower margins, but much higher volumes. What has not happened, and will probably happen very soon, is the innovation in business models,” said Kishore Vangipuram, SVP for the Roaming business unit at Mobileum (pictured, centre).

Citing changes in the airline industry, where the launch of low-cost carriers disrupted the business models of incumbents, he continued: “The airline industry did not just drop the price and stay still. They innovated by offering upsells, cross-sells, loyalty programmes, dynamic pricing, those kind of things. That level of business innovation has not happened in the operator [roaming] world yet.”

Benjamim Ferreira, senior consultant at WeDo Technologies (pictured, left), noted changes in roaming mean “we have less margin, but we have more revenue” as customers become more comfortable with the concept.

Operators have tools in their armoury, he said, to drive greater use of roaming. For example, so-called “silent roamers”, who are connected to the network but do not consume services, could be detected and targeted with offers to stimulate use.

But he also noted operators need to make sure they are in control of their roaming businesses, so they can leverage data and drive new commercial propositions. “It’s important to have systems that mean they don’t delegate everything to the clearing house. That was a trend a couple of years ago, but now operators realise that if they delegate everything, there are risks,” Ferreira said.

Quality of service
There are some operators for which roaming is a big part of the business. Mircea Petrescu, carrier services, revenue assurance and fraud senior manager at MTN Cyprus (pictured, right), noted that as a key holiday destination, roamers can double the number of subscribers connected to its network during peak periods.

The executive argued a core operator competency is an important factor in the roaming business. “In terms of inbound roaming, apart from the commercial conditions, it’s all about the network quality. The better the network quality, the more chance you have to get more inbound roaming. That’s a very important fact,” he said.

In addition to innovation around business models to support current service propositions, the growth of 5G and IoT will also create opportunities. But this will mean current roaming regimes won’t meet future demands and use cases.

“It’s obvious that the charging model, and charging only traffic, will become obsolete in the future. Because with a connected car, it could stay in our country for one month, and consume 10Mb of data. And that 10Mb is so cheap, it doesn’t make any sense. That car will stay in our network for one month, and will use resources which could be used by someone talking and making us money. So it has to move from the model of charging for traffic only,” Petrescu said.

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