By Guy Reiffer, Vice President Marketing
LTE is being touted as the next stage in the evolution of mobile data consumption, as well as the potential solution to the current capacity crunch. Although LTE will take time as well as considerable cost to roll out, predictions abound that in a few short years, it will be the de-facto technology for the majority of the world’s carriers, with deployments set to reach mass adoption by 2012.
As we see more commercial deployments of LTE networks in countries such as South Korea and the US, the roaming and hubbing implications of the technology are becoming front of mind for many mobile operators. However, the main benefit of LTE could also be its downfall, as the attractive speed and ease-of-use it delivers could potentially lead to a higher level of bill shock when customers roam over an LTE network. Statistics already show that over 40% of global subscribers actually switch their phone off to avoid incurring bill shock when roaming. With LTE, the speed increases so rapidly that bill shock becomes an even bigger issue.
The latest EU roaming regulation puts further pressure on operators, compounding the need for real-time data control and developing bespoke roaming tariffs which are tailored to complement individual customers’ needs and usage patterns.
MACH’s Data Roaming Engine takes a granular approach to billing, giving customers control over cost, allowing the creation of roaming packages targeted to suit a particular end-user group. In practice, this means that business users can subscribe to an email package giving them access to emails at an economy rate, while additional services such as web surfing carry a higher cost.
Application-specific roaming gives subscribers further control over the services they want to access when roaming, by allowing them to create a ‘white list’ of applications that they wish to prioritise. Subscribers can access the services they want on a pay-as-you-go basis, safe in the knowledge that they are in control of their costs. One thing all end-users have in common is a desire for reasonable data roaming rates and offering consumers greater visibility and control over roaming packages is key to unlocking the potential of data roaming on LTE networks.
LTE represents a key challenge for operators over the next few years. There will be increased demand for interoperability services going through hubs and operators that deploy LTE networks early and address their users’ roaming needs effectively will pick up the ‘early adopter’ customers. MACH’s Data Roaming Engine allows operators to rise to the challenge presented by LTE networks by offering services which are customised to meet the needs of their subscriber base. Not only will this drive uptake while reducing the final cost to the end-user, it will also empower them to pick and choose the services they want to use when outside of their home zone.