The Informer spent much of this week in sunny Amsterdam, basking in the glow of the world’s most advanced LTE networks, as early adopters and keen followers shot the breeze at LTE World Summit. What was interesting, was that the talk on the conference floor was all very heavy and technical, compared to the usual marketing gloss and business-case chat the Informer is used to hearing. Still, whereas the problems highlighted at those kind of gatherings are often identified as technical, the guys responsible for the technology were this time pointing the finger at commercial issues.
The European Commission has outlined its plan for a single EU telecoms market. The package calls for the abolition of roaming rates within the EU, spectrum assignment to be coordinated across the continent, consumer rights to be harmonised across Europe, EU-wide protection of net neutrality and simpler rules across the EU to enable companies invest more and cross borders with their offerings.
SK Telecom appears to be leading the charge in terms of international LTE roaming, having extended its 4G connection services to Canada and Switzerland.
Swisscom claims to have performed the world’s first intercontinental LTE roaming connection between Europe and Asia, having opened up roaming services with South Korea.
Technology executives at some of Scandinavia’s biggest carriers told the audience at LTE World Summit today that, while technical hurdles are easy to overcome, more complex commercial issues mean a single mobile market without roaming borders is still some years away.
Once used primarily to restrict subscribers who had exceeded usage thresholds, policy has evolved into a key enabler for data service monetisation, says David Sharpley, Vice President and General Manager of the Data Experience Business Unit at Amdocs.
The ITU has long endeavoured to forge a global spectrum harmonisation plan, but the vast differences in availability and specific requirements from country to country have made such a task impossible. Now any hopes of establishing an international roaming band for LTE look set to be dashed on the rocks of fragmentation.
More operators are increasingly turning their attention to roaming now that LTE deployments are emerging from the initial rollout stage. This week Swisscom joined the early adopters in providing LTE roaming services, courtesy of Ericsson.
Starting this week, European operators are looking at the development of a coherent strategy to prepare for the arrival of roaming MVNOs in 2014. From May 14 to June 3, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) is holding a public consultation on draft guidelines in relation to regulated retail roaming services.
In recent years we have seen networks and devices evolve to offer customers faster and more reliable data services than ever before. Customers have become accustomed to accessing their photos, playing games and watching videos and much more from their smartphones in their home markets. Despite this, when it comes to international roaming, only a small proportion of consumers are enjoying these services when they are abroad.
Armed with smartphones and tablets, consumers are demanding constant connectivity and consistently high quality of service, anytime and anywhere, at home and abroad. As a result, roaming traffic is expected to grow rapidly. Will your roaming profits grow as well?
Indian operator Airtel, which operators in 20 markets across Africa and Asia has extended its One Network on-net charging policy to its Asian markets. The One Network policy of charging domestic rates to subscribers while on Airtel networks irrespective of country was already established in Africa. Airtel inherited the policy from Zain when it acquired Zain’s African portfolio in 2010.
The uptake of LTE services across the globe is gaining momentum. The Global mobile Suppliers Association’s (GSA) ‘Evolution to LTE Report’ released in September 2012 showed there are currently 96 commercial LTE networks in operation, set to grow to 152 by the end of the year. Devices with LTE support are coming out in a steady stream now, and while handset manufacturers and mobile operators work out the interoperability challenges, Far Eastern operators SK Korea and CSL Hong Kong have already announced the first international roaming agreement. International LTE roaming is coming.
An SMS sent out to O2UK subscribers this week indicates that the cost of making and receiving calls outside of the EU is set to rise dramatically. In some cases international call charges to the firm’s end users will more than double by the end of November.
Having developed models and published forecasts for some time I am often intrigued by the way people read information. For some reading and interpreting data is a simple task but for many of us it is an impenetrable mist punctuated by mysterious terms like multi-point regression, Gompertz and sigmoid functions. Within such an environment forecasting begins to live up to its reputation as a dark art.
In a recent interview request I was asked to comment on the demand from Indonesian Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring to remove roaming fees between ASEAN countries.
The focus was on two questions: Do you think it would be possible for Asean to become a free roaming region? And if so Why? And what steps need to be taken for Asean’s telcos to agree to a no roaming fee agreement?
Australia-based carrier services operation, Telstra Global, this week introduced an IP exchange (IPX) service to better help operators introduce enhanced roaming and richer mobile interconnect offerings.
You can’t deny a spectacular comeback when you see one, especially one as fast as Philipp Humm’s. After two less than fortunate years at the helm of T-Mobile USA, where he was responsible for engineering the failed merger with AT&T (although he did score $4bn in break up fees), Humm stepped down from his role, and less than 24 hours later was revealed as the new chief of Vodafone’s Northern & Central European operations.
Vodafone has launched a new roaming package for subscribers, ahead of the EU’s new legislation aimed at lowering roaming costs, which comes into force July 1. Vodafone’s UK pay-monthly customers, including business travellers on standard price plans, are now able to use their existing UK price plan for voice, text and mobile internet in Europe for £3 per day.
European regulation has become something of a poster child for legislators around the world with the overall character of regulation heavily influenced by the EU experience. This replication has manifested itself in the increasingly resolute attitude regulators are taking to roaming regulation around the globe.