LTE SPECIAL REPORT 2014: A value-added tack, part III – LTE roaming solutions

Carriers must play their part in enabling new revenue streams for LTE networks, based around a mix of value-added services. Capacity investigates.

Continued from LTE SPECIAL REPORT 2014: A value-added tack, part II – VoLTE

LTE roaming solutions

LTE data roaming is an obvious value-added area, and one that is undoubtedly set to grow hugely in the near future. At present, however, it is beset by difficulties.

It is not easy as it stands for an LTE operator to carry out interconnectivity with global roaming destinations. Roaming between LTE networks requires an efficient international exchange mechanism to integrate all IP-based services.

“Operators can’t use the 2G and 3G roaming environment that’s been there for 20 years,” says Mikael Schachne, VP mobile data business with BICS. “They need to set up a new next-generation IP environment. At the moment, if you have two operators with domestic LTE services, they need to set up a connection that uses LTE’s Diameter protocol, standardised to exchange roaming information.”

He says BICS started offering such a thing nearly three years ago, but only broke through with any critical mass in 2013.

“It’s still early days for LTE roaming – it’s not mature yet,” he believes. “But traffic is increasing and we’re providing a tool to optimise that, helping operators to boost profits. It’ll be a tool with a long lifespan.”

Any carrier with a credible IPX service can play a part here. LTE interoperability and roaming will be one of the big IPX market drivers over the next few years, according to analyst firm Innovation Observatory.

Orange’s wholesale arm, for example, has tooled its IPX with a Diameter signalling offering, allowing customers to introduce LTE roaming across Europe, the Americas and Asia. It says its LTE signalling service enables operators to provide end users with an improved quality of experience on 4G networks while roaming abroad.

Norwegian carrier Telenor’s Global IPX similarly enables operators to be connected through one IP connection. SAP AG has announced an IPX peering agreement with Etisalat in the UAE to deliver LTE roaming traffic to all mobile operators. And Telstra Global is developing an IPX capability for its Asia-Pacific customers, based on service flexibility for LTE roaming and service-aware traffic management.

To read part VI – LTE and M2M – click here.

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