Achieving the Promise of Truly Global Mobility

February 11, 2015 Tim Sherwood

Delivering a ubiquitous global mobile experience

Although mobile adoption has gone global in the last few years, mobile services continue to be restricted by cost, quality and connectivity issues. Uncertainty and lack of confidence, when moving from the home network to a visited network tells us exactly where we are as an industry. The adoption of mobile communications is a global phenomenon but mobile services remain localized and restricted. 

Friction-free, cross border communications

The internet has enabled frictionless, global cross-border communications for about 20 years, but mobile is still evolving as a global broadband access technology. If we think about how development and innovation would have been limited if each country had multiple closed internets, we can then begin to imagine the potential of mobile on a truly global scale.

An inconsistent user experience drives customers to seek alternate ways to access mobile data when they roam. The challenge is to win back and retain customers by delivering a universal quality of service across operator networks, while giving users affordable access to voice and data services wherever the customer might be. A ubiquitous global mobile experience is required, to help minimize subscriber churn to alternative roaming options.  When this happens the entire mobile ecosystem can accelerate innovation, enabling content and applications providers to compete in new markets, while giving customers the user experience they require.

A consistent, ubiquitous global mobile experience

The way roaming works today does not necessarily support a dynamic future for global mobility. So what does a consistent, ubiquitous global mobile experience mean?

For end users, this means a consistent experience and quality similar to “at home” regardless of location.

  • For enterprises, content, and application providers, this means the ability to reach and engage mobile users globally with a consistent user experience.
  • For mobile operators, this extends their virtual service border, helping to maintain strong relationships with customers.

Expanding the virtual service border

At present data roaming usage requires backhaul of roaming traffic back to the roamers’ home network, which is both inefficient and expensive. MNOs can look at ways to reduce costs, while bringing the internet closer to the roamer, wherever they are. This is where ‘Regional Breakout’ can help. The concept of Local Break-Out is relatively well understood, but with Local Break-Out data services are provided as if they are really local, so normal home services, including Blackberry access or access to VPNs are not possible.

By contrast a managed Regional Breakout service delivers a much improved, “roam like home” user experience at a lower cost. It removes the backhaul overhead and associated latency from existing roaming arrangements. A managed regional breakout approach also provides for multiple roaming partner rollouts quickly and at low cost.

Regional Breakout encourages silent and low spending roamers to use their devices on-net, while enabling MNOs to deliver the home network experience, with value-added services. It is an important element in changing how the mobile market views global service mobility. 

Managing quality of experience proactively

To better manage the quality of subscriber roaming experience, MNOs need to ensure service availability, by proactively managing their network and accelerating trouble resolution.  This requires MNOs to monitor signaling messages, which control roaming traffic, to ensure that roaming users are correctly registered and that the user experience is being delivered seamlessly.

Existing monitoring and reporting tools tend to be functionally limited and do not present correlated views to help MNOs quickly diagnose issues.  Some tools provide reporting functions only, while others may focus solely on trouble shooting.  Data correlation between tools can be cumbersome and inefficient. 

A holistic view is required, encompassing reporting, troubleshooting and commercial optimization. This calls for a real-time business intelligence approach to roaming services.  This lets MNOs optimize the subscriber roaming experience, minimize service disruption by proactively monitoring network health, and identify key trends to further drive revenue growth and operational efficiencies.

Enabling new enterprise commercial models

The “always-on” nature of mobile makes it a potentially significant driver for enterprise brand engagement. When the mobile industry looks beyond simply protecting existing roaming revenues, new business models enabling enterprise services can emerge.

For example mobile messaging is a simple and cost effective media increasingly being used for a variety of targeted brand engagement activities. Outbound marketing text messages have up to 98% open rate and 45% response rate, according to a survey quoted in enterprises to benefit from this medium, co-operation with a trusted messaging partner is required to deliver successful and consistent message termination, on a local and global basis.

Mobile messaging lets MNOs provide a route to enterprises for them to deliver a range of value-added services including targeted advertising, travel information, e-commerce security and more.

Mobile messaging is a mature technology, being used in new ways. An emerging commercial model is the concept of sponsored data, where the cost of data usage is charged to a sponsoring 3rdparty. Sponsored data could have widespread use cases, ranging from enhanced expense management for employee BYOD, improved customer loyalty through promotional programs, and a new way to embed customer support / helpdesk features into a mobile app. Sponsored data creates new revenue streams for MNOs, while giving enterprise brands a new differentiator, delivering ‘free’ services to their customers and partners.

Partnering to make it happen

To realize the vision of truly global, affordable and consistent mobility services, the industry needs a structure that lets all ecosystem players connect and collaborate to reach users on a global basis. The fast and efficient way to enable this collaborative environment is through partnership with a provider that already has the required multiple relationships with other global MNOs, together with experience in delivering global applications, media and services.

For an MNO, approaching these opportunities on a global scale can be complex. But if they select a partner with a global platform, they can easily and cost effectively connect with other MNOs and content providers to simplify and accelerate time to market, with low risk. It is a matter of recognizing the opportunity and then finding the right partner to make the ubiquitous global mobile experience a reality.


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