On 1st July 2012, under new regulations, European mobile operators had to cap their data roaming charges to a maximum of 70 EU cents per megabyte for mobile data downloads. This is not just about reducing the cost of online services such as catch up TV, Facebook (News - Alert) and iTunes. In today’s digital economy, our productivity rests on our connectivity, and the EU data roaming cap is expected to save regular business travelers 1000 Euros a year.
From 2014, European Commission Vice President, Neelie Kroes, is advocating proposals to bring more competition to the European data roaming market, by enabling customers to switch operators “in a few simple swipes”, in order to benefit from the best data roaming deals. Operators that are able to optimize their network and make best use of their PSTN infrastructure will be in a better position to offer the most competitive mobile data roaming costs to businesses.
Doing more with less
The need to reduce costs, has led many businesses to adopt ‘over the top’ VoIP services on their smartphones, particularly when it allows them to avoid international roaming fees. This has removed a chunk of revenue from mobile operators.
As a result, operators are left with picking up the tab to upgrade their networks to support more data traffic from smartphones, while watching their traditional voice revenue decline.
One solution for managing network operator’s costs is to make more effective use of the assets that are already in place and make mobile VoIP work on 3G and data-capable 2G networks.
Reducing the cost of international business calls
Currently, most mobile VoIP apps only work over 3G and Wi-Fi connections. However, industry analyst, Wireless Intelligence has reported that 2G still accounts for 74 percent of the connected mobile user base worldwide. This means that most mobile VoIP apps only address a quarter of users, leaving the majority of business users unable to use the service.
Owing to speed and latency issues, standard mobile VoIP just doesn’t work very well over GPRS and EDGE and while 3G and Wi-Fi networks can run mobile VoIP services, there are service quality issues.
One of the options to assist operators in retaining roaming revenue, while maintaining good call quality is supplying their own optimized mobile VoIP offering.
While we’re waiting for 4G to be fully rolled out, operators will need to consider offering VoIP optimization apps that are EDGE and GPRS friendly. This will help more businesses to benefit from mobile VoIP when they are away from the office or working overseas.
Removing excess baggage
An average conversation may contain between 30 to 60 percent silence. That means empty data packets being transmitted across mobile data networks during mobile VoIP calls. Compressing silence has been shown to reduce mobile VoIP traffic down to two kilobits per second (kbps), compared to eight kbps for a standard VoIP call. This means that operators could provide data roaming customers with more than 13 minutes of talk time for just one Megabyte of mobile data. In addition, operators managing their own mobile VoIP solution could offer more competitive tariffs by controlling call routing for PSTN terminations of outbound mobile VoIP calls.
Mobile broadband optimization technologies offer a real value, particularly to businesses that have staff regularly travelling and working overseas, where networks are of varying quality and roaming call costs are high.
Roaming tariffs for business
For example, an operator can assign two direct dial-in (DDI) numbers to each business subscriber, where one number is used for circuit-switched calls and the other for packet-switched calls. When outside GSM coverage, the subscriber can be reached on their packet-switched number. This will run over the Wi-Fi network in their hotel or overseas office.
For UK businesses with a workforce that regularly works in branch offices overseas, this will reduce roaming charges by enabling VoIP calls as though they were being made on the UK operator’s network. In addition, a local DDI number can be supplied so families and friends can call the employee without incurring high roaming fees.
Likewise, if international employees spend time in your UK headquarters, the local UK operator could offer the same mobile VoIP app to allow them to call home by the means of a pre-paid service and they can still be reached, regardless of which operator’s SIM they have in their phone.
An international business subscriber using an optimized mobile VoIP app for roaming, instead of using the usual international circuit-switched calls, could save up to 96 percent on their calls to home.
Operators are under pressure to deliver more capacity, better quality and greater value to their subscribers while maintaining profitability. Mobile VoIP optimization apps provide a strategy for mobile operators to use their network resources more efficiently and add value to business customers, no matter whether they are making calls over a GPRS, EDGE, 3G or 4G network.
About the author:
Chris Moore is the Director of Sales and Marketing at One Horizon Group and is responsible for marketing Horizon’s VoIP optimization technology to network operators and service providers in the mobile, satellite and fixed telecommunications markets worldwide. Chris has more than fifteen years of experience in the telecommunications and IT industries and was formerly Sales Director at Inmarsat (News - Alert), where he led channel sales into maritime, aeronautical, government, utilities and the oil and gas industries. Prior to this role, Chris was an Account Manager and Product Marketing Manager with Crane Telecommunications, a leading distributor of VoIP and PBX (News - Alert) equipment.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman