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News and analysis of developments in the enterprise communication industry and market with primary focus on Europe.

The author aims to tap into ideas, insights and thoughts of the readers to get varied perspectives.

Views expressed in this blog are solely the author's opinion and in no way reflect those of his employer.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Enterprise Mobility: Death of roaming charges

I get so angry and frustrated when I see the roaming charges on my mobile bill. As a engineer, I can't relate to the costing for a roaming service. In 2003, I presented a paper outlining how roaming is farcical. Let me take a couple of cases from the paper to illustrate my point.

Case 1: x number of customers of mobile operator A in UK travel to France to connect to mobile operator B. y number of customers of mobile operator B in France travel to UK to connect to mobile operator A.

Assume each customer calls to their home country only. For a call within the home country that costs 30 p/min, the roaming call cost on an alternate network can be expected (with anger) to be around 95p/min.

What we are told is that roaming charges go on as interconnect fees to be payed to the operator that is providing the access to make the call. In our case operator A earns (95-30)*y per minute and pays (95-30)*x to keep the difference as profit without a cause.

In technical parlance, what happens in roaming is that your HLR contents is transferred to the VLR of a different operator, which is the exactly what happens when you travel far from home in your home country. Apart from that the operators transfers the call through an interconnect, and CDRs are exchanged between operators. For this they charge what they charge.

Case 2: If a user A in UK travels to France and a user B in UK calls user A, both users pay excess charges. I wonder why?

Therefore, this roaming farce seems like cartel-pricing, rightly said by the European Union late in 2005. My reason to write this piece isn't to vent my frustration but to speculate the death of roaming with the rise of web based free services and private mobile networks. In a recent conversation with convergence specialist of BT, Rik Rocken, he outlined the forthcoming One-voice for mobile that will help enterprises get rid of roaming charges.

If we look at enterprise mobility and the rise of private networks, the value proposition is around saving costs (comparitively high access costs and long distance charges, and roaming costs). Its interesting that roaming charges gave enough reason for a new industry to be born only to kill its cause.

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