An Interview on LTE Roaming Challenges with Guy Reiffer, VP of Marketing & Partnerships at Starhome Mach
One of the major issues limiting LTE roaming rollout is the need to negotiate and test a new LTE roaming agreement with each roaming partner. This process can take several months per partner, delaying rollout, revenues and customer satisfaction.
Guy Reiffer, VP of Marketing & Partnerships at Starhome Mach, discusses with LteWorld about LTE roaming challenges and how Starhome Mach’s LTE Accelerator is enabling seamless 4G roaming while leveraging operator's existing 3G roaming agreements.
What challenges are Operators facing globally in implementing LTE roaming?
Steering of roamers in LTE - The home network operator needs the ability to steer its subscribers according to handset technology (LTE or 3G), the user’s data requirements, current package, location, etc.
Circuit Switch Fall Back - In the first phase of LTE (before VoLTE), all voice and SMS traffic is handled by legacy circuit-switched (CS) networks, while data traffic is handled by LTE packet-switched (PS) networks. With circuit-switched fallback, when the user’s device is operating in LTE (data connection) mode and a call or SMS is received, a special service request message flow is sent to the home network. The home network must recognize the special visited network signals and approve the device to move (fall back) to 2G/3G in order to accept the incoming call/SMS. In the world of SS7 steering, this special service request must be handled properly to assure the quality of the user experience (QoUE) and successful circuit-switched traffic while roaming. Otherwise the service is affected.
LTE roaming agreements - Operators typically have 300 to 500 roaming agreements with their partners worldwide in order to allow their subscribers to roam. To allow LTE roaming, operators need to test and implement an LTE roaming agreement with each partner. These agreements are complex and could take up to four months each to implement. Nevertheless, most LTE operators will be looking for a minimum of 50 to 100 LTE roaming agreements in the first phase of launch to cover the most visited networks. To support their subscribers’ expectations, a faster solution is needed.
Frequency – handset needs to support band and frequency in visited country
How operators are using big data for decision making for capacity planning and marketing?
Billing records can be used to:
- Identify usage patterns
- Build right retail offerings per segment
- Identify visited network and build wholesale commitment
- Predict increased usage and optimize network capacity
- Analyze impact of promotions and packages, then optimize
- Find silent roamers and promote attractive packages
- Identify QoS issues in real time and decide right action
Please tell us a little about Starhome Mach's service offerings in LTE Roaming domain.
Starhome Mach LTE Accelerator solves problem #3 above. Lets visited networks provide LTE services based on 3G roaming agreements with home networks. This ensures that LTE subscribers can roam onto the network and receive the best Quality of Experience equal to that of their home LTE environment. This solution is unique to Starhome Mach with full interoperability across signaling and billing layers.
- Implement signaling and billing interoperability to leverage incoming 4G subscribers from networks with whom the operator has existing 3G roaming agreements.
- Market the service to inbound roamers, promoting awareness that they are now on an LTE network and can enjoy the same experience they are accustomed to at home.
- Leverage Starhome Mach big data to identify inbound roaming patterns and adjust marketing and strategy for LTE partner activation.
- Analyze subscriber and traffic reports to provide a complete view of data usage as well as impact and trend analysis
What are key differentiators of Starhome Mach's LTE Roaming solution?
Our LTE portfolio covers four solutions, which are only offered by Starhome Mach
- Steering in LTE - Only Starhome Mach currently offers a solution to steer in LTE and support CSFB
- We identify the LTE environment versus 3G and identify the handover between technologies. Use this for home operator marketing strategy, such as package promotion, usage patterns, quality of service
- Real-time business analytics and management system (called Unity) automates roaming department activities
In addition, we are proactive and reactive to market challenges and LTE complexities. We are continuing to improve our product line, capabilities and solutions to support operators.
What is Starhome Mach's current LTE market reach and growth plans?
We have 300 customers today, many Tier 1 worldwide. Many customers are upgrading their steering solution to our IPN-LTE steering and other products.