Inter-Standard Roaming – Maximising Revenue in a Multi-Standard Environment

In tune with
other global telecom markets, India
too has witnessed the deployment of both CDMA and GSM networks within its
regions.  For operators this has presented a challenge in terms of
enabling both inter and intra-standard roaming.  End users wish to be able
to use the full range of services they are used to consuming on their home
networks – be that of voice, SMS, data or email – wherever they are, either
within their home country or globally.  If a CDMA subscriber has a service
drop every time that  person enters a GSM-only coverage area, the levels
of service offered by the  carrier are highly questionable.

In today’s ‘connected world’, a carrier needs to be able to deliver seamless connectivity
if they are to make the most of this important revenue channel – both within
India and in the international roaming stage.  At a time where prepaid
plans as well as day / week passes are becoming increasingly attractive value
propositions to subscribers in the home market, such demands move to the
roaming scenario as well. Many subscribers today turn off their handsets while
travelling for fear of bill-shock on voice, SMS and data. Offering the roamers
a set of services and choices to control roaming charges will drive up usage
and ensure that handsets are kept turned on. It is here that outsourcing
inter-standard roaming as innovations are really coming to the fore.

The outsourced
approach to inter-standard roaming delivers a single connection to hundreds of
partner networks, immediately delivering  an integrated solution of voice,
SMS and data for postpaid and prepaid roamers.  In addition to making it
much easier for the home network operator to set up a roaming business, this
approach also ensures massive cost savings made through the economies of scale
enabled through the outsourced solution provider.  Where inter-standard
roaming is truly different, however, is that it can enable this ‘plug and play’
connectivity to CDMA operators, allowing their subscribers to roam across GSM
or even Wi-Fi or WiMAX networks.

There is a need
for ISR solution(s) to effectively demonstrate the benefits of roaming between
CDMA & GSM networks for both post and prepaid users, allowing seamless
roaming with just one device, one number, and one bill. Another area where ISR
aids operators is overcoming traditional technology barriers that used to limit
the prepaid data experience.

In the past, the
options were limited to either making large ‘box in the network’ capital
investments and committing to large operational expenses that are incurred when
opening up inter-standard access for customers;   or losing revenues
to  local providers of GSM and Wi-Fi services and delivering a service
that fell short of customer expectations. The recent progress in inter-standard
roaming now means that operators can offer a far more efficient and value-added
approach to delivering seamless extension of operators’ home networks, without
the capital and operational costs. This unlocks new revenue opportunities for
operators, and provides  cost-effective solutions for subscribers. With
end-to-end, one number inter-operability, operators can provide complete
roaming services without the time and investment required to build their own

roaming will become increasingly important in India – and globally – over the
coming years as mobile subscription levels reach a point of saturation.
 Operators need to think of newer ways to generate revenues.  While
traditionally seamless inter-standard roaming has been highly complicated to
realise, it has become clear that the rapid pace of technology innovations and
the rise of the outsourced model have finally lead to a simple approach that
will allow operators of all sizes to deliver a competitive and highly lucrative
roaming business.


By M Raghunatha Chary, RVP Sales,

[email protected]