VoLTE Roaming: The time to act is now

| 4 mins read

The decommissioning of 2G and 3G networks is a worrying trend on the rise. Due to its effects, an estimated 820 million subscribers could be without voice services when roaming on LTE networks. Voice calls provide access to emergency services. This means operators must implement VoLTE roaming as the only option if they are to ensure the transition of voice services for consumers, and provide them with the same high-quality experience, even while travelling overseas.

Although LTE and VoLTE are on the radar screens of many MNOs, VoLTE roaming adoption remains slow. This can be attributed to three reasons:

  1. Regulatory compliance
  2. Financial insecurity
  3. Misalignment of priorities
  1. Regulatory compliance

Lawful interception is a legal requirement in most counties in the EU. This means that voice connectivity services in any market must be implemented in a manner that supports authorised electronic surveillance. The ability to make emergency calls to national shortcodes is another government requirement. Concerns over compliance was a barrier until recently.

For operators implementing VoLTE roaming, compliance need no longer be a barrier to adoption. These considerations have been addressed by the GSMA and the recommended solutions are readily available.

  • Financial insecurity

Lack of clarity over the revenue model is another oft-cited concern among operators. Unlike traditional voice services that generate revenues based on a clear charge-per-minute payment model, the charging standard for VoLTE roaming is more complex.

To address this, standards organisations such as the GSMA have published an extensive body of best-practice materials and other support, based on operators that have successfully migrated to VoLTE. There are numerous examples available of operators who have developed a successful model and increased roaming revenues as a result. One of the most important points to note here is the snowball effect: the more operators join the VoLTE ecosystem, the more revenue there is to be gained.

  • Priority misalignment

A typical commercial VoLTE roaming relationship requires VoLTE implementation on both sides. If either party has not prioritised VoLTE adoption, the relationship cannot be opened. This has led to sporadic growth in VoLTE roaming adoption.

One way to increase adoption is for operators who have not commercially launched VoLTE services to support those who have, by opening up their networks to enable inbound VoLTE services. By doing so, they also have the advantage of being better equipped to easily provide outbound services when ready, as the initial relationship is already in place.

According to GSA, 167 operators across 73 different countries have invested in VoLTE. Operators that are not prepared for deployment must act now to establish these agreements, or they risk the impossible task of setting up hundreds at once.

Ease of implementation

The market is ready for VoLTE roaming and operators must act today. Many of these barriers to adoption no longer exist and can easily be resolved through collaboration with an experienced VoLTE enabler. BICS provides a single window VoLTE service through its IPX network that not only ensures quality, but has an existing community with a wealth of shared experiences, which takes the hassle out of deploying VoLTE roaming for operators.

QoS management is guaranteed with BICS Dynamic QoS, a special feature developed on its IPX network to ensure end-to-end prioritisation and quality for VoLTE roaming, even in heavy and congested traffic. BICS also facilitates communications between operators, encouraging collaboration and in turn, increasing adoption numbers. BICS has the infrastructure in place to offer certainty, simplicity and financial stability for operators on the cusp of VoLTE roaming implementation.

Operators are already picking up the adoption pace for VoLTE roaming, keeping up with subscribers’ needs while decommissioning networks, and in turn, increasing revenue in the long-term, and ensuring QoS.

In doing so, they are also taking the first step towards the future of 5G roaming!