The Top 4 Challenges That MNOs Need to Overcome on Their Journey to 5G Roaming

September 6, 2022

Dimitris Zoulis, COSMOTE’s Project Manager for Roaming Services and International Synergies, talks to Daniella Torres about how VoLTE, IoT, and 5G will impact the telecoms industry.

By investing and launching 5G Standalone (SA) networks now, mobile operators will gain competitive advantage in the consumer and IoT enterprise markets. However, they have a few challenges to overcome.

The sunsetting of 2G/3G networks worldwide is accelerating the activation of VoLTE roaming agreements, and consequently, pushing 5G roaming forward. VoLTE roaming must act as a predecessor to 5G SA roaming as it’s the only fallback option for the voice service.

  1. New Network Parameters and Slicing

VoLTE and 5G roaming share similar challenges, even though the complexity of managing roaming agreements will grow considerably with the latter. Operators will need to manage new network parameters, especially around Quality of Service (QoS), as well as the coordination of multiple network slices in a roaming scenario. Although still unclear, roaming in 5G private networks deployed by large enterprises usually for IoT mission-critical cases, may also be possible.

  1. Detecting, Managing, and Analyzing 5G-Compatible Devices

Similar to VoLTE roaming, both consumer and IoT devices must be 5G-compatible, and therefore, must be taken into consideration as part of the Steering of Roaming logic. Analytics will play a fundamental role in measuring and ensuring agreed SLAs and KPIs, as well as in detecting permanent roaming behavior, which can be considered an opportunity to monetize devices that only use signaling.

  1. Intricacy of the Billing Process Due High Traffic Requirements

GSMA’s Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) settlement process is the go-to option for 5G. According to Kaleido Intelligence, monetization of 5G roaming services is the main reason operators opt to migrate from legacy TAP to BCE. BCE offers a flexible wholesale charging framework and automated settlement processes to reduce overhead costs to settle roaming transactions. It’s specially designed to manage high traffic volumes generated by 5G traffic, as operators do not need to exchange several millions of transactions bilaterally, but rather in an aggregated manner instead.

  1. Scalability and Profitability in Times of Great Change

The global COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted many industries with unexpected variables essentially resetting investment priorities. Many operators witnessed a decline in their roaming revenues and had to move to a cost control mode. With the world returning to certain degree of normalcy, operators can continue to compete for consumers traveling on vacation or business and in the enterprise business more actively. The acceleration on 5G rollouts is critical as this will drive new revenues from both consumer and enterprise markets in the next 5 years thanks to innovative data-centric services, as well as savings from the shutdown of legacy generation networks.

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