Digital roaming partnership management, a new era begins!
The multiple roaming initiatives launched recently have been accompanied by regional regulatory changes which have caused mobile roaming use to skyrocket! These initiatives include “Roam like home” in Europe and “One Africa Network” with its “Smart Africa Alliance”, to name but two. The move is great news for end-users but they bring a number of challenges for mobile operators. To meet these challenges, operators may need to rethink their practices and come up with viable, agile roaming management solutions to help boost their productivity and keep up with customers’ growing expectations in terms of service quality.
Do more with less: the challenge of mobile network operators in roaming
Mobile operators are confronted with two major challenges: (i) the fact that roaming use has become common place, and (ii) the need to increase roaming operational efficiency. On the one hand, the introduction of roaming regulations has led to a decrease of roaming revenues which manifests itself in reductions in the numbers of staff to manage roaming activity. On the other hand, the growing variety of mobile usage (voice calls, text messaging, video and music consumption online, the use of social networks etc.) and the widespread trend of multiple Machine to Machine (M2M) devices constantly in roaming put tremendous pressure on mobile networks.
The goal of every mobile operator is of course to provide the best possible coverage to its subscribers. To ensure best quality coverage and to allow users to benefit from high speed data sessions, make or receive calls, send or receive text messages, every mobile operator needs a minimum of 2 to 3 roaming partners in each country. In total, this involves setting up over 600 roaming agreements. On top of that, services are multiplying for each roaming agreement as we go: from 2G to 4G and soon to 5G adding new layers to oversee in operator-to-operator relationship. This makes the management of roaming partnerships a complex matter, given that for each service managed, a procedure must be established to validate technical configurations and tariffs, contract approvals and signatures.
And what’s more, even after completion of the commercial roaming agreement, the work continues. The GSMA-based, RAEX (Roaming Agreement Exchange) defines three distinct items: technical configuration, tariff standards and operator directory contacts. Its documentation is frequently updated and the changes must be implemented by partners. At Orange International Carriers, we observed that the associated documents are updated around 30 times per week on average. This means that every time each partner must coordinate its internal teams to oversee network configuration and billing. Today, this workflow often implies an exchange of numerous emails and the maintenance of Excel files, both of which pose significant potential risks for human error.
Digital Roaming management tools: bringing roaming back on track
The automation and the digitalization of roaming management tools have become crucial in order to simplify processes and to ensure reliable workflow.
Innovative digital tools that aim to centralize roaming documents and automating their processing are now available: from the detection of document changes to the automation of alerts sent directly to the relevant teams. These features optimize the working processes and help avoid potential risks of error!
Market pressure is on mobile operators and its increasing, so agile processes must become the norm. By reconsidering their current roaming partnership management processing, mobile operators can step up their performance: they will increase their efficiency and they will ensure best quality of service to their end-users.
For digital roaming management, the best is yet to come!