Operators set to cash in from LTE roaming wave

06 March 2013 |

Carriers are set to cash in on the availability of multi-band smartphones by launching LTE roaming initiatives, starting in Asia-Pacific and North America.

Vendors Huawei, Apple and Samsung have been collaborating with carriers to launch devices that can accommodate the increasing range of frequencies in the global market.

“Vendors are now taking note, and issuing or releasing multi-band devices,” Stéphane Bendayan, director of mobility solutions & new services at Tata Communications, told Capacity.

India-based Tata became the latest carrier to launch the service in late February 2013 after an initial 18-month trial and offers a single interconnect point aiming to eradicate the challenges of LTE roaming and provide a seamless transition from 2G, 3G to 4G.

In November 2012, Capacity reported on the potential failure of LTE roaming after operators and analysts questioned whether devices would ultimately revert to 3G because they could not accommodate different bands of 4G spectrum.

Since then, a host of IPX providers, including Tata and Syniverse, are ramping up their managed service offerings in anticipation of increased demand in 2013 due to global LTE take-up.

Philippine operator Globe Telecom claimed to be the first in the world to offer LTE data roaming in October 2012 partnering with China Mobile Hong Kong.

Several other deals have been announced from operators in countries including Singapore, South Korea and Canada.

“We are starting to see real demand primarily in Asia and North America. I don’t think it is at critical mass but material opportunities are starting to come to the forefront for us,” said Jeffrey Bak, VP, product management, mobility services at Tata Communications.

While the first wave of agreements are expected to be simple offerings, Bak believes that operators will eventually look for opportunities in differentiated QoS for enterprise customers once LTE roaming picks up pace.