Watch CALLUP Steering of Roaming Video

According to a report from Juniper Research, published in March 2014, operator revenues generated from mobile roaming will reach nearly $90 billion by 2018, compared to $57 billion in 2014. This will represent over 8% of global operator billed revenues by 2018. In its press release Juniper Research says that “these revenues will largely be driven by increasing data usage, primarily from a reduction in roaming charges. Data roaming represented an estimated 36% of the global mobile roaming revenues in 2013.” According to the press release “Operator revenues from mobile data roaming to reach over $42 billion by 2018."  So, worldwide roaming is increasing and one of the vital tools in this sphere is steering of roaming.

Two Methods for Selecting Mobile Operators during Roaming

When a cellular company subscriber is roaming, for example when he is abroad, the subscriber "targets" a local network for sending and receiving calls and data. Both the subscriber’s regular mobile operator, and the subscriber himself, prefer that the roaming be done with local operators whose prices are reasonable and the quality of whose networks is high. The option for the home network to select the hosting network while roaming is called steering of roaming, and can be performed by one of two methods: network-based steering or SIM-based steering.

Network-based Steering of Roaming

Network-based steering of roaming uses the SS7 gateway next to the SCCP gateway on the home network side. When the subscriber attempts to connect for approval of the hosting network, a request using SS7 signaling is sent to the home network. If service is not allowed by home network, the subscriber will automatically be forwarded to try another hosting network (this may take several attempts).

SIM-based Steering of Roaming

SIM-based steering of roaming uses an updated network list on the subscriber’s SIM card, which includes preferred mobile operators (PLMN). The list is updated using messages that are sent to the subscriber’s SIM card over the air (OTA). An application on the SIM card reads the list and forces selection of the right mobile operator according to the preferences set by the home network, based on business needs.

Why Choose SIM-Based Steering over Network-Based Steering?

SIM-based steering saves SS7 signaling costs between the home network and hosting networks to which the subscriber tries to connect. This can total a significant amount of SS7 costs, since roamers shift between 3-4 networks in average. In addition, SIM-based steering (OTA steering) cannot be impacted by anti-steering systems that attempt to eliminate the steering, since it is impossible to trace and cancel SIM-based steering. The fact that SIM-based steering does not use SS7 signaling prevents a possible point of failure in the network, since many carriers carry the SS7 signaling messages via the steering platform to the SCCP gateway. User-experience is better in SIM-based steering, because the subscriber does not “jump” between non-preferred carriers. Furthermore, due to pre-defined agreements between carriers, the rates are better and more accurate. In addition, some smartphones do not fully support SS7, and network-based steering can connect the subscriber to a network other than the one desired.

CALLUP’s Hybrid Steering of Roaming Solution

CALLUP offers a Hybrid steering of roaming solution that supports all access technologies (2G/3G/4G). Hybrid steering platform is combining the best from both SS7 steering and OTA steering. The steering of roaming solution can exist as a standalone platform or it can be integrated into CALLUP’s SIM OTA platform that remotely manages SIM cards. Among many features, the steering platform has built-in dynamic PLMN/FPLMN generation and delivery to cards on the fly, multi-IMSI support, control roaming networks subscriber distribution, online web transaction logs and flow analysis for easy troubleshooting, REFRESH applet available for immediate effect of PLMN change, , black lists for MSISDN, IMSI and MCC/MNC numbers or ranges, and white lists for IMSI and MSISDN (primarily for testing purposes). Preferences that can be set include web graphic user interface, distribution between operators per country, setting operators as forbidden, and more. The solution includes a rich reporting and statistics engine, including customizable reports, work map with subscriber counts, steering operation types and success rates, provisioning reports, history view and per country roamers report.

The Key for Selecting the Proper Operator while Roaming

As international travel and tourism grows, the importance of smooth and affordable roaming increases. Subscriber awareness towards optimized roaming services is growing too, and travelers want to assure that they can continue to use their mobile phone abroad transparently, with reasonable prices and high quality. This is important not only for international travelers, but also for local users who might need to connect to other operators if there are coverage problems with their regular operator in certain areas. The key to selecting the proper operator while roaming is steering of roaming, and the best method is SIM-based steering.