The Name of the Game is “Quality of Service”
After getting a glimpse at the evolution of Steering of Roaming (SoR), and discussing the importance for operators to fine-tune their platforms, we will talk about Quality of Service (QoS), a recurrent but not yet fully explored theme within the mobile operator community.
In the roaming world, the reality is that operators have limited visibility of their partners’ networks. Even though the GSMA’s Global Roaming Quality (GRQ) has made efforts to measure roaming services quality, SoR is fundamentally accomplished based on whether coverage is available. If a high-usage end user raises a complaint, the operator often prefers to stop enforcing steering and letting it connect to any network available, even if this results in additional wholesale costs.
To Measure the Immeasurable
The increasingly complex roaming environment – due to multiple customer segments, many technology generations, and network parameters – is causing a rise in demand for solutions that facilitate business decision-making and also can act upon those decisions in real-time across multiple networks.
A new approach for QoS-based steering improves user roaming experience and goes beyond non-coverage issues. Advanced SoR services can calculate a QoS score of partner operators and their network elements, specifically the VLRs and MMEs, based on historical roaming registration events. This scoring determines if a registration request should be granted or not. A common use case for this approach is to allow registrations – even on non-preferred networks – in case no other network is available or avoid registration on networks that report long registration times. Such embedded logic actively influences the steering and does not depend on external inputs.
These sophisticated yet simple measurements can improve user experience without negatively impacting costs. Steering targets will be respected due to the auto-compensation mechanism. For the same roaming partner, whilst subscribers will be rejected in low-scored areas, there will be more registrations in high-scored areas. This means that regions within the same country will experience different traffic distribution, improved QoS and cost control.
Segmentation for All
It would be easier to define QoS simply as a matter of good coverage and great speed. This is not wrong, but far from being right. Enterprises have different requirements depending on the IoT vertical. For example, the average data generated by a smart device is much higher than an industrial sensor. Massive numbers of devices require global connectivity, but only business-critical applications require low latency and high bandwidth. The same applies to consumers where segments are based on their tariff plans, location, generation segmentation, and consumption habits. QoS will become customized, and it’s up to operators to decide how according to their various business needs.
5G Will Change Everything, No Matter How You Slice It
5G Standalone (SA) will make all of this possible. 5G network slices will allow more control over QoS, where specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) can be assured. Specific IoT verticals and use cases, such as autonomous driving or telemedicine, will be the main drivers of this need. Operators and enterprise customers will be working on QoS-based business models, where QoS is not only measured and enforced, but also used for commercial purposes. The QoS-based steering approach is an important step in this direction. Additional value-added services will also be possible, such as detecting, managing, and analyzing 5G-compatible devices from roaming registration requests that go through the SEPP gateway, or QoS-based charging models using GSMA’s Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) settlement process.
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