By Ben Bannister, Product Marketing Manager MACH
A developing trend in the mobile communications industry is the reduction of roaming fees across land borders. Recent developments in the Iberian peninsula (Spain/Portugal), agreement between the regulatory authorities of Argentina, Chile and Peru (near border roaming) as well as the European Union regulatory authority review of roaming within the EU are all indications of the direction that many land border markets may follow in the next few years.
The issue is that in those areas where roaming fees might have been reduced, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will still continue to require solutions to help them identify and control roaming traffic, to ensure continuing revenue and margin management, in addition to compliance with regulatory requirements. MNOs still need to be able to manage inbound traffic on their network and allocate costs accordingly, as well as ensure that appropriate rating and pricing is applied for outbound roaming. While the consumer benefits associated with eliminating roaming are obvious, the process itself, far from eliminating the need to manage roaming traffic, actually accentuates this need.
So in the extreme, where roaming fees approach national fees, what would still be required to manage the inbound roaming process? Obviously accurate business intelligence is necessary, reporting roaming traffic by region and zone. Also some form of wholesale re-rating will be required to ensure that calls in the relevant visited zone are charged a preferential IOT rate. Some form of retail billing control continues to be required, using re-pricing techniques, and optionally the management of file splitting, if roaming calls are allocated to separate TAP files.
The above requirements exist for inbound roaming management. For outbound roaming, there is also a requirement for the application of re-pricing to all relevant outbound roaming calls, to ensure that tariffs are applied consistently.
In summary, regardless of the imposition of regulated roaming regimes in adjacent national border regions and possibly beyond, MNOs will continue to need to be able to identify inbound and outbound roamers and take appropriate policy actions. There will be a continuing requirement for advanced wholesale and retail re-rating options to ensure price transparency. In the case of near border roaming regulation (domestic tariffs applied around border regions) MNOs will need to be able to apply location-based rating and reporting (to CDR level). There is likely to be a requirement to be able to exclude certain destinations and premium rate numbers, as well as having system flexibility to apply zero roaming to specific subscriber groups. All of these elements will need to be present in order to manage margins and allocate costs accurately.