By Tue From Hermansen, Director, Mobile Data and Advanced Networks, MACH
While 3G is barely able to serve the different VoIP services that we today find in abundance on the different app-stores, VoIP over LTE will enable us to enjoy HD voice quality when abroad. VoLTE has now been well defined by the industry bodies, however for roaming it looks like we will be looking at Circuit-Switched Fall-Back to 2G/3G for standard voice calls for many years. The non-operator driven VoIP services could have a field-day with the increased bandwidth. Business and consumer Mash-ups like IM applications increasingly combine content from many other sources creating a healthy dose of IP-traffic for the networks.
Some consumers will be happy to pay almost anything to be able to keep in contact with friends and family, through what today are standard communication tools for many people. They will be happy to use the LTE networks abroad on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Some consumer segments will feel the need to address only their bare needs when abroad. What if you could offer these subscribers a lower-price data roaming offering that gives access to only certain types of services, like IM? Operators can model the average usage and wholesale costs and define the right retail packages to satisfy these subscribers also.
With service-aware pricing operators can address such different needs.
Lastly, as we are speaking about LTE rollout, an important matter remains – what to do with the increased data traffic once it comes off the access networks? Currently all data traffic is routed from the Visited Network to the Home network. This ensures a virtual home experience where subscribers will get access to the same content as at home. However downloads from certain video-streaming sites do not need to be downloaded via the home network. Can we optimize the backhaul load and eventually ensure an optimal consumer experience by using local-breakout of certain types of data traffic? Yes, it is certainly possible, and something that we will see used increasingly as the load on networks picks up with the roll-out of LTE-roaming agreements.
LTE roaming is coming to a network near you. It is time to finish the plans for the commercial roll-out of LTE roaming. Plans that will need to cater for fast changes in the value propositions and how value is created for the consumers as market needs grow and adjust.