Avoiding Roaming Holiday Nightmares
Mobile roaming is a key growth area for operators, with increasing demand for connectivity and quality of service while roaming abroad. So with the holidays approaching, how does one dare test roaming in the real world? Well, the answer is two-fold.
The Telecoms sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, accounting for $1.23T in 2015 revenues, which works out to $171 per person globally. On the plus side, consumer appetite for data continues to grow, and mobile data is set to account for more than half (56%) of global roaming revenues, generating as much as $50B by 2019 (Ovum). However, revenues are being attacked by infrastructure and equipment investment, rising regulatory intervention and falling roaming rates. Additionally, Ernst and Young estimates that revenue and fraud leakage costs the industry $23 billion annually.
Further complicating these revenue concerns, EU roaming regulations have undergone many changes. In the middle of 2014, Europe tried to reduce roaming charges by allowing subscribers to get the services from an ARP (Alternative Roaming Provider) or by way of a LBO (Local Break Out). More recently, as of April 2016, The European Commission further slashed costs, meaning operators are only able to charge a small additional amount to domestic prices. These new tariffs when travelling in the EU are now capped at €0.05 per minute for calls, €0.02 per SMS sent and €0.05 per MB of data used. Looking ahead to mid-June 2017, European roaming rates will be abolished, further squeezing telco revenue while helping out the consumer and putting an end to customer ‘bill shock’. Of course any roaming problems abroad will always be magnified heading into the vacation-heavy month of August.
As a result, this summer, operators must help protect customers by ensuring that roaming changes are successfully implemented and working for both the consumer and operator themselves. However, there are many components to roaming testing, it requires a sophisticated approach far beyond wandering around with a cellphone and asking if you can be heard.
Everyday problems and risk areas include these fluctuating regulations on roaming charges, steering (and the wholesale rates based on the selection), subscribers who are willing to switch for real or perceived QoS or billing problems, device fragmentation, call quality experience and the technological advances needed to enhance telecom’s backbone to support ever-growing data and connectivity demands. From this pot of trouble, a seamless roaming solution is essential with no operator wanting to lose market share with complaints about the availability and operation of their outbound roaming services. Although, using roaming partners to run performance network tests can be time-consuming due to the coordination of resources and management. It is also common for network operators to use in-house test teams which is considered an expensive and time-consuming process.
So with the holidays approaching, how does one dare test roaming in the real world? Well, the answer is two-fold.
First, to achieve proper in-the-wild real world testing, crowd testing is necessary. For optimal coverage, this supplies the most physical devices with the most device types across multiple locations. From there, you can look at inbound and outbound QoS for SMS, voice, and data as well as network default steering and the user’s ability to find and connect to other networks. QualiTest’s Managed Crowd Testing Service leverages the power of the 2.5 million-strong crowd in more than 220 countries across 40 platforms.
Second, revenue assurance needs to be validated for current usage as well as ensuring proper implementation of rate changes prior to rollout. We’ve partnered with BluGem Communications for this test service to utilize a roaming Sim Server solution. Test Call Generator 4G units are deployed to key roaming locations with automated Sim card switching, to maximum subscriber usage testing and tariff plan rating validation.
QualiTest and BluGem’s innovative Roaming Test Solution combines real user experience and an automated call generation that will ensure customer satisfaction standards are met, in a single solution that is more flexible and cost effective than legacy models. We have experience in all aspects of mobile telecom testing, specifically: Network Integration, UAT & Device Testing, Regulatory Compliance, back office/billing/CRM, Governance and Control.
You can also visit our Roaming Testing page for more information here.