The advent of ARPs could pose problems for MNOs
The news that on July 1st  that the EU has once again put a cap on roaming charges has received mixed reactions within the industry. Activists – Europeans for Fair Roaming sees this as a success for its work. Adhish Kulkarni, CMO with Lumata claims that whether the end of high roaming prices turns out to be good or bad news for MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) will depend entirely on how they market it. OpenCloud‘s Jonathan Bell reckons that MNOs will have trouble meeting the EU requirement to support Alternative Roaming Providers (ARPs) within the 12 month deadline.
Europeans for Fair Roaming’s Bengt Beier is definitely claiming a victory.
“The EU Commission originally proposed prices of 50 cents per MB in 2014. Together with the European Parliament, we managed to get them down to 20 cents per MB,” Beier said.
According to the new EU law, prices for using mobiles phones abroad will be lowered to 24 cents per minute for calls and 45 cents per MB for internet access from July 2013.
Roaming prices will continue to fall – going down to 19 cents per minute for calls and 20 cents per MB for internet access by 2014.
Crucially, users will be allowed to choose a different operator from their home operator for roaming by 2014. Hence the advent of ARPs.
The process of supporting separate roaming arrangement is known as decoupling. In order to do so, MNOs must make complex changes to multiple essential network elements, says OpenCloud’s Bell.
These include voice service control points; voicemail platforms, and messaging centres with some ‘duplication’ for separate post-paid and pre-paid systems, and for legacy and LTE networks.
Bell’s view is that there is unlikely to be a suitable ‘off-the-shelf’ solution – each network typically has its own unique
“fingerprint” of network equipment and overall architecture.
Moreover, the regulations themselves are open for further change and, if the goal-posts move, then the operators will need to track those changes.
Bell doesn’t specifically say so but you can bet that ‘cloud based’ solutions are likely to offer sufficient flexibility to cope with such requirements.
Adhish Kulkarni, Lumata’s CMO, argues that instead of worrying about a predicted two per cent drop in revenue, smart MNOs will look hard at the opportunities presented by a customer base that’s far more willing to use their phone abroad.
Let’s face it. Most Brits are so scared of ‘bill shock’ when they go on holiday abroad that they simply don’t turn their handset on whilst on holiday. So operators are roaming revenues from them in the first place.
Kulkani says that consumers are now more likely to buy additional bundles to use apps, surf the mobile web, or call and text when abroad.
MMS might even get a boost!