Ahead of the signaling show (who knew?) that starts tomorrow … I have been noticing a flood of information including various press releases about LTE roaming. I don’t have much that I can say publicly other than what I can observe in the public domain. So I wanted to point out some recent examples.

As you may or may not know, there’s some real challenges to LTE roaming around the radio interface, such as the ability of a device to operate everywhere based on radio bands supported, other than that, nearly all other big issues are primarily in the business domain if you exclude VoLTE for the moment.  I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the public info out there regarding LTE roaming.

Firstly, why LTE roaming? Simple, there are LTE subs nearly everywhere now. Chart above shows something like 100M now. Unlike 3G with the different flavors, this is interesting because multiple (or greater number of) networks could potentially host foreign subs in a given location and since the subs are substantially on a single standard, a greater number to deal with.

As you can probably guess, there are 3 domains the situation exists in. Firstly is from the network standards point of view. 3GPP and others have been working on filling in the gaps to help the situation. Release 9 and 10 fix some roaming holes in the standard (actually just standardized the fixes) and go a long way. Beow Sybase has a network diagram for your viewing pleasure. You may recognize that Diameter is a key protocol between the networks and it’s relatively new into the marketplace. Verizon and others are still discovering the ins and outs of using it. 

Next up is the obligatory network diagram that shows at a glance the network topology of the roaming signaling situation.

The second domain is the network OEM perspective. There are several players in this space like Sybase, Diametriq, and Syniverse to name a few. They offer products to assist with the roaming infrastructure and or provide hosting services to enable it. 

For example, here is an interesting slide deck describing a Diameter Signaling Controller from Diametriq. Notice the comments about operator challenges and the complexity just within the diameter protocol universe.


And Syniverse announces hosted Diameter services…

Syniverse Solutions Ready SmarTone for LTE Interoperability 

Here is Syniverse’s deck that’s fairly interesting titled, Preparing for LTE Roaming

Outside of that there is 3G roaming that already has lots of glue in place. It gets complicated when considering that LTE networks can communicate much easier over the wire to each other, however using a completely different protocol set and network topology than what is in place, yet the 3G fallback is highly desirable (Voice or edge data coverage.

Some service providers like Global Telecom have taken the initiative to be a first mover in this area. 

Globe beats rival telcos with LTE roaming function

Ultimately having some service providers go first will help to accelerate the LTE roaming marketplace in general.

The final domain of LTE roaming challenge belongs to the UE. The recently launched iPhone5 and iPads do have LTE, which will increase demand based on their historical popularity, however these devices are based on Qualcomm RTR8600 technology limitations that do not facilitate a single chipset for all bands, therefore there are different models that can use different sets of spectrum. Sysbase’s William Dudley recently posted about the iPhone5 and roaming in:

iPhone 5: A Catalyst for LTE Roaming?

Smith Micro Software is offering something in this space, a mobile based solution that focuses the smartphone on using WiFi to offload and presumably avoid roaming over LTE.

To me, until there is a simple solution that allows a single device to utilize all LTE bands being deployed this is the biggest hurdle for LTE roaming to become widespread. However, when it finally does happen, the commercial possibilities are exciting as the increased competition will improve choice and pricing globally thus fueling more adoption perhaps in the Machine to Machine (M2M) space where we will be able to have all of our cars, homes and non phone type gadgets LTE enabled.
Just an observation.

Full Syniverse PR below…

Links: Syniverse.com, infonetics research, Sybase

October 30, 2012

Syniverse Conducting Multiple LTE Roaming and Interconnect Trials with Tier 1 Operators

Syniverse IPX Network provides end-to-end testing environment for global top-tier operators

TAMPA, Fla. – Oct. 30, 2012 – Syniverse today announced a series of successful Long Term Evolution (LTE) roaming trials that enable mobile operators to manage the complexities of transitioning to LTE networks as seamlessly as possible. Using IPX, Diameter Signaling Service, Real-Time Intelligence and data clearing, comprehensive, end-to-end LTE roaming and interconnect testing is complete or under way with seven Tier 1 mobile service providers around the globe to accelerate their efforts to transition to LTE.

“LTE promises a tremendous increase in transmission speed and improvement in quality for mobile data services,” said Thomas Wehmeier, Principal Analyst and Global Head of Telco Strategy, Informa. “Yet LTE roaming remains a major challenge that needs to be resolved to realize the potential of LTE technology. Comprehensive testing is critical to delivering on end-user expectations.”

Enabling ubiquitous and reliable LTE roaming is a complex challenge that requires testing, resolving and ensuring the quality of roaming processes such as Diameter signaling, clearing and settlement, and customer-experience protection between one LTE network and another LTE network. Another critical issue is ensuring that fallback from an LTE network to a 2G or 3G network is addressed properly.

“Syniverse is the first to offer a single-solution testing and interconnection environment to ensure a seamless, comprehensive trial process,” said Jeff Gordon, President and CEO, Syniverse. “With our breadth of LTE-ready services, providers can integrate the testing of all of their services through a single source, instead of managing separate processes for areas like messaging, customer care, and clearing and settlement. Plus, our 25 years of mobile roaming experience give us insight into the potential unknowns that come with interoperability and interworking between new technologies.”

Syniverse’s testing environment is powered by its LTE solution portfolio, which gives operators access to full LTE interoperability and interworking required for 4G voice and data roaming.

At the core of the LTE solution portfolio is the Syniverse IPX Network, a carrier-grade, five-nines connection to Syniverse through a global network fully enabled to deliver the quality and class of service required for LTE. Through this single connection, which currently connects nearly 100 mobile service providers worldwide, customers gain immediate access to Syniverse’s full suite of 4G solutions, including Diameter and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) signalingclearing and settlementcustomer-experience protection, and advancedvideo and messaging support.

Based on its progress and results around the world, Syniverse is seeing demand grow for trials as momentum for LTE rollouts builds. In the first phase of trials, data services are being tested, and more advanced services such as LTE voice, video and messaging will be tested in subsequent phases.

About Syniverse
Syniverse makes mobile work for more than 900 mobile operators, cable and Internet providers, and enterprises in over 160 countries. With unmatched expertise and 25 years simplifying the complexities of roaming, messaging and networking, Syniverse serves as the force at the center of the mobile communications universe, keeping people connected today and forging new connections for tomorrow. Nobody knows mobile like Syniverse. For more information, visit www.syniverse.com, follow Syniverse on Twitter or find Syniverse on Facebook.
For more information:

Bobby Eagle
Syniverse Public Relations
+1 813.637.5050
[email protected]

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