Fast track to roaming coverage and profitability: outsource your roaming agreements 

On 08-10-2021
Reading time : 2 minutes

Recent events have had a devastating impact on the roaming business. Business and leisure travel halted altogether, thereby decimating roaming revenues: the telecoms sector saw revenues drop by $43 billion compared to 2019. This equated to a drop of between 11% and 15%2, and the industry has had to ask itself how and when it might recover.

However, there are reasons for optimism. Research predicts that as the travel and tourism industry begins recovering, data roaming traffic will grow by 93% in 2021 to nearly 600 Petabytes. It expects operators will launch new, cheaper roaming plans, day passes. And they may extend roaming Like at Home (RLAH) to newer markets and travel corridors. Data traffic will achieve pre-COVID-19 levels in 2022 at an average annual growth of 40% over the next five years.                                                                                 

But how will operators achieve this? We sat down with Cedric Gonin, Senior Director Marketing Mobile Services at Orange Wholesale International to discuss what’s happened and how telecoms companies can bounce back.

Q. Cedric,what is your view on where the roaming space is today?

A. It has been clear that the sudden stop of all travel and tourism for an extended period of time had a devastating effect. And it was the sort of thing that nobody could have seen coming, so no telecoms industry companies had any plan or roadmap for it. Further, it came on the back of an already changing roaming industry. The decrease in wholesale and retail rates accelerated by Roam Like at Home regulations had already meant that profitability was harder to achieve. The pandemic’s impact on travel and tourism just amplified it.

Q. And what do you think it means for new MVNOs and small operators who are trying to drive revenues from roaming?

A. MVNOs and MNOs need to build up roaming coverage as quickly and as cost-effectively as they can. And that is not easy. They need to offer customers extensive roaming coverage around the world and rates that are attractive to them. Negotiating, setting up and managing roaming agreements takes time, and it requires contacts and relationships in mobile markets worldwide. MVNOs and MNOs do not typically have those kinds of partnerships or the time and resources to build them up.

Q. What can MVNOs and MNOs do about it?

A. Outsource their roaming agreements and partnership management to an expert! Orange Wholesale International provides a service called Roaming Sponsor, which is ideally suited to small operators, new MVNOs and new MNOs. It means they can partner with one larger wholesaler and immediately benefit from our existing roaming agreements. 

Through Roaming Sponsor, they can access the broadest coverage because our Roaming Sponsor service is global and available in over 200 destinations. They also have the potential to benefit from lower rates than they would be able to negotiate themselves.

Q. What else does Roaming Sponsor offer?

Over the past year, we have invested time and resources in evolving Roaming Sponsor to address the needs of the marketplace even more thoroughly. We have actively adapted our platform to support roamers using VoLTE and 5G, and at the same time, we are working on adding these services to Orange France’s bilateral roaming agreements. It means we will be ready for the 2G/3G sunset that will happen soon. Furthermore, MVNOs and small operators can also benefit from improved data speeds thanks to our solution’s enhanced architecture.

Q. Are there other advantages to using Roaming Sponsor?

A. Yes, several! We’ve put analytics tools in place to help operators better understand their customers’ behavior, meaning they can better tailor the offers they provide to customers, check quality of service levels, identify and take action to reduce the number of silent roamers, and increase roaming consumption. 
We have robust anti-fraud solutions in place, and signaling traffic from visited networks to the Roaming Sponsor platform is also protected. And last but not least, our professional services experts help our customers design and build the ideal roaming solution for them. We are confident we have a perfect, end-to-end roaming solution for all our customers’ needs that will grow with them as their business grows. 

Q. And finally, how does Roaming Sponsor and Orange Wholesale International support an operator’s roaming strategy?

A. Roaming Sponsor is an ideal solution for players who want to offer a complete “roaming-out” coverage in a short time to their end-users. With a single provider, they can have access to the whole range of services they need for roaming: roaming enablers (IPX and signaling), high quality roaming coverage, professional services, antifraud solutions, and analytics.

Later on, as operators grow in resources, expertise, and maturity, and when they see an increase in their number of subscribers, they may be interested in developing their “roaming-in” traffic because other operators will be ready to open new roaming routes directly with them. That is why, when needed, our customers can choose to complement Roaming Sponsor with our Roaming Hub solution allowing “roaming-in” traffic without managing financial clearing and having to tests new services. To summarize, we help operators make the most of their potential business through quality, adaptability, and customization.


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