Border roaming is costly for mobile phone providers. It can result in excessive costs for roaming by partners and frustration from customers. In some cases, the issue has resulted in significant damage to the reputations of operators.
Border roaming is currently getting a lot of media attention. This is especially evident at the USA border with Canada. Canada border as well as on the Portuguese border. Spanish border.
What is border roaming?
The term “border roaming” is one which can refer to many problems. In general, there are three major scenarios to consider:
* Roaming that is accidental or unintentional
* Retained return surface travelers
* National roaming
This is the situation that you are hearing the least about. It is due to the fact that it is the one that receives the most attention from the end-user.
It happens when a subscriber suddenly becomes roaming even though they have never been outside of his country. In extreme instances, you might find that someone shifts from their kitchen to their living room, and then is roaming not even realizing it.
The issue is of course when the subscriber is presented with the invoice. He complains and takes the expensive CSR time, and possibly causing negative publicity for the company. In one tiny European country, the chief executive of an organization was forced to appear on national TV to discuss the situation.
The issue can cause payments disputes with roaming providers and pressure to take unwelcome regulatory actions.
Retained Returning Surface Travellers
If roamers return to their homeland via the road and rail routes, they could get “retained” for some time through the roaming networks they are a part of while in the foreign country.
The challenges can be like those encountered in the scenario of accidental roaming. But this “returning” scenario can affect anyone who crosses across the border. It’s not only residents who reside near the border. A typical returnee is consequently far less aware of this issue.
This is especially true for users of data.
In most cases, regionally-based operators from one country will have to sign contracts for national roaming with different operators to give their customers the coverage they want and need. In most cases, the subscriber will not be paid any additional fee cost for “roaming” on the other national network. That means that every time a customer receives “retained” by the roaming network, if coverage is available on that network at home, there’s an immediate and unneeded expense to home networks.
Operators have tried a variety of strategies to lessen the negative effects of problems with border roaming. This includes:
* Subscriber education
* Welcome SMS
* Handset timer settings
* Steering platform extension
* “Billing” solution
One of the most straightforward solutions to address the issue is to inform your readers about the dangers that border-crossing is a problem. You can simply tell that they should be aware when they are in areas bordering. It is also possible to explain how to make an re-scan of their network if they believe they are within the home coverage of the network.
There is a belief that when this happens the customers will have less reason to be upset if they receive unexpected roaming costs. But many people find that in practice the messages are lost and have little impact on the customer’s behavior or expectations. These messages could trigger negative feedback when customers don’t recognize the issue across all roaming networks in addition to the one they are subscribed to.
Welcome SMS Messages
Maybe the “next level up” in response could be to offer customers a welcoming SMS. In order to do this successfully to do this, your Welcome SMS platform would need to verify if the subscriber was taken over by a neighboring network and then send a specific message.
This solution solves the issue of roaming that is accidental. One could argue that in this instance, the subscribers were specifically warned about roaming, and therefore have less reason to complaints. But SMS messages are delayed and can arrive late. SMS messages can also be dismissed by the user as “just another piece of SPAM”.
Adjusting Handset Timer Settings
The device is equipped with a timer that prompts an annual re-scan. The typical setting is 30 minutes. Of course, lots of data and calls can be made in just 30 minutes; therefore the service provider could lower the amount to, say five minutes.
It will definitely lessen the risk of being a victim of border roaming problems. However, it won’t affect the way that much on roaming that is accidental since the majority of problems will likely occur at the moment that a roamer is first crossing into the country, i.e. in the initial moments. In the beginning, a shorter time to rescan will consume the battery of the phone more rapidly. This can lower customer satisfaction. This will also decrease the amount of calls the customer is able to call and also receive.
Network Based Steering Extension
You can utilize the steering system to attempt and hold off the attachment to a roaming partner , or to try to force a scan. It is as simple as that the platform used to steer you send an error message whenever the first request is made in connection with a network that is believed as being connected to that network. This is basically a delaying method that hopes the home network will be restored.
This is a simple process in the event that you already have a network-based steering platform in place. But it only addresses the issue of roaming that is not being addressed. When the steering platform issues numerous re-attach notifications but the subscriber is not receiving access to services. The steering platform may not require a scan again, and repeated use could lock the phone.
The cancellation location command may cause denial of service or performance issues e.g. calls made inbound might not reach the subscriber.
The non-standard use could degrade efficiency of the steering system and result in non-preferential network attachments (or violate GSMA guidelines for steering). Naturally, this strategy is susceptible to steering actions that are anti-steering e.g. that is based in GLR systems.
The operator may also look at the various characteristics of subscribers to create a profile which will predict their risk of being affected by border roaming. This could include looking up their address at home along with their past roaming activity as well as any complaints they have filed regarding roaming bills.
This could be employed to modify the use of measures, such as welcome messages, handset timing modification, and network-based steering extension.
Operators may, particularly in the case of a group that spans the border on both sides and decide to completely eliminate roaming fees. This definitely solves the problem of customer service. Also, it generates favorable publicity for businesses who are involved. However, it will cost quite a bit of money to introduce in lieu of roaming fees to those who are not affected by border roaming.