A few years ago, a savvy traveler would perform research before going on a trip, downloading maps to their phone, printing out reservation details, and verifying Wi-Fi availability at specific points of interest.

As roaming charges have decreased and various data plans have become available, seasoned travelers skip the hassle of planning, knowing they can get information on the go while roaming.

Roaming is a critical piece of the customer’s experience that cannot be overlooked when planning quality and resource investments.

Why Is Roaming Performance Important?

Customers expect the same speed and quality whether they are at home or roaming. However, an isolated gap in service at home may not be memorable, whereas the same experience while roaming could be traumatic. The ability to access maps, apps, and messages is even more critical when you are in unfamiliar territory.

JRC (Joint Research Centre) conducted a roaming performance study in the EU. Results indicated that performance and speed were generally worse for roaming users than for users in their home network. Unfortunately, roaming issues are rarely reported to the carrier, and operators are lacking visibility to the performance of wholesale agreements.

You want to have full control over your customers’ experience. However, sending personnel abroad is costly and not sustainable for ongoing monitoring. An innovative roaming testing solution is necessary.

Why Is Roaming Testing Suddenly a Hot Topic?

Roaming testing has always been important, but you’ve been hearing more about it lately for a couple of reasons.

Customer Demand
For the most part, travel has returned to pre-COVID levels. Meanwhile, customers are more reliant than ever on staying connected. The demand for voice and data roaming has accelerated quickly in a very short time.

Operator Necessity
At one point, it seemed the telco industry was never going to let go of legacy technology. But as operators look to free up spectrum for 5G, there is a sudden motivation to sunset 2G and 3G services.

One problem: while 4G roaming for data has been tried and tested, 4G roaming for voice (VoLTE) is not widely used because 2G/3G is sufficient for voice services. In short, there was no need to prioritize VoLTE testing. The current penetration for VoLTE roaming agreements among operators is still relatively low.

Source: GSMA WAS#15, Network Closures & VoLTE session

The delayed adoption of VoLTE roaming can also be attributed to complexity. For example, VoLTE enabled configuration options for operators to “tune” their network to optimize speed and load. Unfortunately, these customizations introduced compatibility issues when devices moved from one network to another.

With the advent of 5G, operators now share an interest in sunsetting 2G and 3G. Meanwhile the industry has achieved alignment on the previous barriers to VoLTE roaming adoption. The next challenge operators face is reliable roaming testing that truly reflects the customer’s experience.

Complexities of VoLTE Roaming Testing

Like all telco testing, “does it work or not” is not good enough. Besides success rates, it’s imperative to validate call setup time, radio KPIs, voice quality (MOS), received CLI, and SMS delivery time.

Although customers expect the same experience when traveling across borders, comparing operator A to operator B is not apples to apples. Every network has their own capabilities and standards.

Additional complexity is introduced by the countless variables that could be causing an issue. Investigation is required to determine if a problem stems from the home network, the visiting network, or the user’s device. Further, timing, location, and traffic conditions all play a role in performance and quality at any given moment.

Roaming Verification

There are two primary methods for roaming verification testing: modems and real smartphones.

Legacy Testing with Modems
Traditional roaming testing is performed with modems. The modems act as “call robots” to carry out test suites.

A testing provider would have hundreds of modems deployed globally. Some are equipped with VoLTE testing capabilities and even less with 5G. Additional modems, larger arrays of boards, and additional interfaces are necessary for testing each new type of technology.

Innovative Testing Solutions with Real Smartphones
An ideal test scenario most closely mimics the customer’s experience. This is why SEGRON’s roaming testing solution uses real smartphones instead of modems. The Global Service Enabler (GSE) performs active testing, providing valuable insights and analysis.

No additional equipment or interfaces are required for new technologies. With the GSE, you can test anything the smartphone can do – VoLTE, 5G, web browsing, and OTT (over-the-top) apps, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

SEGRON’s GSE measures performance for downloads, uploads, and latency. Comparisons can be analyzed for multiple technologies (2G-5G) and scenarios. Ongoing monitoring helps you identify issues before they impact the customer.

Testing with real smartphones goes beyond verifying if the service works. It provides visibility to the actual customer experience by testing with the exact devices that customers are using.

Optimize Your Customer’s Roaming Experience with SEGRON

A customer that is far from home with poor service can tell you why roaming is important to them. As an operator, testing VoLTE roaming is one of today’s top challenges to sunset 2G and 3G. And soon, 5G roaming verification will be a big priority.

SEGRON’s innovative platform of active testing solutions is always looking ahead so your customers can enjoy a seamless experience—at home and while roaming.

See how SEGRON helps future proof your test bench so you achieve an exceptional customer experience. Contact us today to schedule a demo.


This content is provided by SEGRON. Visit the website at www.segron.com