Peak Performance During High Peak Roaming Season

What a busy few months it has been. We kicked off the peak roaming season with 2.9 million foreign fans travelling to Russia for the World Cup and ended it with 1.7 million international pilgrims attending the Hajj, in Saudi Arabia. When you add some of the hottest weather on record it made for an interesting summer.

At iBasis we began preparing for European summer in the depths of winter. We increased our backbone capacity threefold and completed multiple individual customer upgrades in the spring, thus further strengthening our IPX ecosystem.  We projected traffic expectations with our customers and, based on this profiling, increased capacity in our main data aggregation centers (for example AMSIX) and with our IPX peering partners. We also performed an emergency upgrade within 24 hours, when a customer’s traffic exceeded all expectations.

We were delighted that some of our biggest customers chose to use iBasis for the majority of their traffic and we handled large scale destination migrations for them.

Summer came early this year with the advent of the World Cup in June.  LTE signaling transactions almost doubled in Russia; the majority of which was during the group stage, when fans were able to follow their teams’ progress.

But no matter where they were, at home or abroad, fans all tuned in to see the final few matches, particularly if their team was playing. This created some interesting peaks in data usage.

A lot of extra attention was paid by our NOC to our customers whose countries qualified for the World Cup and we provided regular quality updates and analysis of their traffic. It was wonderful to hear how much this was valued.

As the summer progressed the number of roamers continued to increase. Active roamers grew by 60% year-on-year but the peak volume of data they consumed increased by 82%. Subscribers who benefited from the introduction of Roam Like Home last summer became comfortable using their data allowances abroad.

We wrapped up the high season with the Eid celebration and a 75% increase in LTE traffic to Saudi Arabia for The Hajj pilgrimage and a 250% growth in SCCP signaling traffic.

So as we look to the future we are continuing to add new customers and expand our direct reach while we focus on providing the highest quality network, exceptional customer experience and outstanding value for money.

eSIM Standardization Efforts

The GSMA Association and the eSIM
The GSM Association is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members.  Starting 2014, GSMA had begun to work on an ecosystem related to embedded SIM (eSIM), or eUICC, to address mobile networks and market needs for connecting non-consumer, also referred to as M2M, devices to mobile networks for all sort of B2B applications, such as meter reading, connected cars, intelligent remote controlling, among others.

The Remote SIM Provisioning Initiative
It first came up with the Remote SIM Provisioning initiative and formed several working groups. The working groups focused on standardizing a suite of specifications to ensure the whole ecosystem, including eSIM vendors, device manufactures, mobile operators, and other related service providers, follow the same standards and unified framework for all related processes. This has helped the mobile industry to address more than 10 billion devices connecting to mobile networks by 2020, as predicted. By February 2016, the complete version of specifications were released. Since December 2015, it also has begun to work on similar specifications targeting consumer devices.

The Three Major Working Groups
There are three major working groups working the specifications. One group is called the RSP Task Force (RSPTF), consisting of major mobile operators and works on specifications served as requirements for both M2M and consumer devices. The RSPTF group has more than twenty major mobile operators actively contributing to the requirements. The specifications produced from RSPTF are SGP.01 and SGP.21.

Another group, called the RSP Technical (RSPTEC), is working on implementation specification based on the requirement specifications from RSPTF. RSPTEC is composed of eSIM vendors, OEMs, and all related service providers. iBasis is an active member of this group.

Finally, the third main group, called “RSP Certification and Compliance” (RSPCERT), is working on Security Accreditation Scheme, Test, and Profile Protection specifications.

For those of interested in the detail of all the specifications, the full array of documents can be found on the GSMA Public Website.

Solving The IoT Challenges of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are the owners of a key asset required to connect wide area high bandwidth Internet of Things (IoT) devices – the Mobile Network. In these still early days of the Internet of Things, many MNOs are developing their business plans on how to address the IoT opportunity, while others have been working on their plans and services for more than seven years. For all, the Internet of Things represents an opportunity and a challenge.

The Opportunity

MNOs have the opportunity to bring new revenue generating devices to their networks in multiple ways. Some have matured to the point of offering full IoT solutions such as vehicle solutions, asset management, and smarter cites, among others. Others have taken a different approach and offer web based ordering of IoT SIMs to allow developers and manufacturers to purchase mobile data access for their “things”. Still others will work with systems integrators and innovative access partners to bring IoT devices to their network. Regardless of the approach, if the Fourth Industrial Revolution has anything to say about it, one would expect all MNOs will have IoT devices on their network before long – at least the ones they know about!

The Challenge

Today, MNOs face many challenges both in allowing IoT devices of their roaming partners to roam on their network and in offering their own IoT services. To be sure, when MNOs allow IoT devices on their networks, they prefer to allow them on their own terms. Currently, this is not the case, and many MNOs have IoT devices roaming on their networks they don’t even know about.

Challenges with IoT Roaming Devices

Roaming agreements between mobile operators are negotiated based on the device profile for a consumer mobile handset. Since the device profile for an IoT device is very different, with most devices using very little data, the MNO is not sufficiently compensated for the device roaming on their network. To make matters worse, the device is usually a “globally deployed” device from an IoT manufacturer in a different region or country and the device is actually a “permanently roaming” device.
To solve this problem, MNOs would like to have partners that could at least identify the IMSI ranges of IoT devices entering their network and have agreements in place to be properly compensated for the network usage (e.g. when it is not in the form of data). As the next generation SIM technology, the embedded SIM (eSIM) or eUICC, gains wider use, MNOs could work with innovative access partners to easily identify IoT devices on their network and have the correct agreements in place to be compensated for them. With such a solution, MNOs will have better control over IoT devices entering their networks and prevent those devices from permanently roaming.

MNO Challenges in offering their own IoT Services

When offering or considering offering their own IoT services, MNOs have a different set of challenges:

• Providing proper coverage assurance
• Roaming bill shock when sending traffic to roaming partners
• Inability to guarantee connectivity and user experience of traffic from a partner network
• Competition for the same customer (the IoT Service Provider)

While some IoT devices only communicate sporadically (e.g. luggage tracker), others may send significant amounts of data frequently (e.g. video surveillance drone, connected car). When relying completely on roaming agreements for devices that leave an MNO’s network, it may be difficult to assure the necessary cost, coverage technology (3G or 4G) or application/user experience most suitable for a particular IoT device. Using eSIM and next generation network selection technology, a local network can be selected according to the cost, network coverage and quality required by a particular device – functionality that is not available in traditional steering of roaming solutions. Providing high quality mobile data access for their customers globally deployed or travelling “things”, will allow MNOs to compete for, and retain, IoT Service Provider customers.

Making 2017 a Profitable Year!

It’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to the first 2017 edition of iBasis mobile newsletter. Since joining iBasis six months ago I have been amazed by the tremendous opportunities and momentum I have observed in our industry: iBasis welcomed 20 new mobile customers in 2016, and this positive trend has continued into 2017.

We are strongly committed to help you deliver the best quality of experience, with the flexibility and smart customization required for you to harvest the new growth opportunities in this exciting and challenging environment.

We are focusing all our efforts to help you prepare with the right IPX architecture, analytics support and models to leverage the current roaming opportunities and the emerging growth in the exploding global IOT sector.

We expect 2017 to be a pivotal year, especially as the new EU regulation will be fully implemented and any premiums for international calls will phase out. Roam like Home plans are impacting all regions, challenging all of us to keep up with data and video traffic demands while also reducing costs. Over the past year, with acceleration during the last quarter 2016, we have ensured that the iBasis IPX network, enhanced with our InVision advanced analytics tools, is adequately prepared to serve your growing international traffic with predictable cost and consistent quality.

We know that you can experience significant variation in bandwidth needs, with extreme peaks in summer. Traditional interconnect and pricing won’t work anymore. So, we designed models that are cost-efficient, predictable, flexible, scalable and high-quality for both data and signaling: these customized models can match cost against pressurized revenues. Plus, with our service management team, we put in place the right organization to be responsive and flexible in order to enable you to make 2017 profitable while delivering the best roamer experience.

With LTE becoming the preferred network in use both in terms of subscribers and in terms of traffic, we know that Voice over LTE will follow. We are experiencing rising demand for VoLTE interconnects and expect this to expand in 2017. Many new mobile operators, mainly in Asia and in Africa without legacy 2G/3G networks, absolutely need Voice over LTE to satisfy their customers, and we are working with many of you on interconnect implementation projects. Our multiservice IPX is fully enabled not only to smoothly deploy VoLTE interconnects but also to ensure VoLTE roaming roll-out in both LBO and S8HR scenarios.

The roaming market is in a state of rapid evolution and disruption with the emergence of new IOT/M2M companies providing new kinds of connectivity for a very diverse range of devices and applications. It represents an exciting opportunity in terms of new pockets of traffic and revenues. I hope to meet many of you in the upcoming months, and I look forward to discussing further how we can help make 2017 a more profitable year for you.

Is Customer Experience Management Your Top Priority (Like 68% of Operators?)

Customer experience management is emphatically the top priority for operators, with 68% of participants citing it as their number one strategic priority, and 82% viewing it among their top-three priorities over the next three years.

“Customer experience management has become the center of gravity for all strategic decision-making.”    (Ernst & Young, Global Telecommunications Study: Navigating the Road to 2020)

Ernst & Young also concluded that the desire to put customers front and center in everything they do is also driving operators to focus on agility, efficiency and network quality. Network quality remains a vital differentiator for most operators.

priorities_chart

The complexity of managing traffic volumes and reach
As mobile traffic volumes and footprint grow, MNOs require enhanced service quality and commitment from their international partners.  It has become critical (or essential) to track and proactively monitor traffic performance and deliver optimized quality of experience (or quality of service?).

Based on the global market changes, including “roam like home” regulations and new requirements from our customers, we have expanded our service management practices in order to help you gain incremental value.

Delivering a customized service management portfolio
Customer experience management is at the heart of our interaction with our customers and drives much of our technology development and innovation. We optimize our operations and processes so we can quickly and effectively address our customers’ changing requirements. .

iBasis’ service management portfolio includes a broad range of technical, operational and commercial services to support your roaming business. A customized service management plan is designed for each customer, with flexibility to adapt to your specific requirements.

Service Management provides the operational interface for:

  • Technical assistance + escalation support
  • Network performance monitoring
  • Proactive identification of service disturbances and resolution of events
  • Launch planning; commercial support in opening roaming destinations
  • Operational cooperation between multiple entities

Any abnormal findings, irregular behavior or capacity issues need immediate attention to prevent outages or degradation of service. Therefore, we provide our customers with a single, integrated point of contact for escalations, network quality monitoring, performance management, reporting and analytics.

iBasis service management can adapt to differing market and operator type to ensure maximum return on investment and optimized monetization of roaming services, while also minimizing impact of service interruptions.

Please contact your Account Manager who will work closely with you to create a customized service management plan for your roaming business.

 

 

iBasis: A Leading International Voice Carrier For 20 Years

On August 2 2016, iBasis celebrated its 20th anniversary. Compared to our parent company KPN that counts more than 160 years of service, 20 years sound very young and brash. On the other hand, in ‘just’ 20 years iBasis has become one of the three largest carriers of international voice traffic in the world. Today we still are the world leader in that space.

The broadening of our services
With our global network and many years of experience with IP Communications iBasis continues to enable its customers to be internationally successful. Besides connecting international traffic, iBasis provides signaling and LTE roaming-related services that offer added value to mobile operators around the world. Among our customers are thousands of fixed and mobile network operators, VoIP and OTT providers (Over-The-Top). iBasis specializes in connecting fixed and mobile networks and builds bridges between different technologies, such as traditional TDM telephony, IP eXchange and now also LTE.

Continuing to innovate
As the world keeps turning, we continue to develop our communication services to serve our customers and make what’s next work globally. Besides strengthening the development of our Value Added Services for Voice, we are working on several other innovations. One example is ‘Next Gen’ Roaming Connected Cars in Europe with Cubic, where the car functions as a connectivity platform.

But today we also pause a moment to commemorate this milestone. 20 years is definitely an achievement worth celebrating. It is the result and hard work of an international team across the globe. A team I am very proud to be able to work with.

 

Happy Anniversary iBasis!