To refresh our minds GSM first ever speech was made on the Sonera network in Finland December 1991. I was one of the few lucky individuals to join in on the so called mobile revolution in the early heydays. Now called Telia company was the father/mother of GSM. https://www.teliacompany.com/en/about-the-company/history/telia-sonera-and-teliasonera/
Roaming model was invented in the early days of GSM to enable travelers to go around freely and still be able to use their mobile phone while going to another country. It had to imitate the model based on the SS7 model, that was the basics of telecom from Bell lab days.
If the call attempt was made the network will ask the home network operator about the capabilities of the handset owner and hence enable the individual handset as to what it can perform. It was the same case for voice and then for data. Then the reconciliation between different network operators happenned through intermediaries called the clearing houses.
It was a great and innovative model. It served the purposes well. It was amazing to be able to go to another country and make a call as if you were home. But this was 20 years ago…
After many changes and betterments on top of the original model the crux of the matter prety much stayed the same. The SS7 type of mentality prevailed. Today still, when a subscriber makes a call the same type of mechanism works. Even, in todays IP world, as everything is delivered almost locally at the point of consumption, the roamer is directed to the home operator DNS servers each time he clicks a link within his internet browser for IP resolution and the latency kicks in, the consumer experiences less than ideal latency times.
To top it of the commercial model of doing business suffers. I will touch upon this with some numbers, below is a visualization of the models financial output as we look out to the globe, thanks to trawell data people.
Global world wide mobile network traffic per month is 17 exabytes per month this data is created by 5.2 billion mobile subscribers around the world hence average monthly individual use of data on mobile networks is a bit over 3 GB per month according to Statistica, OECD average is a little shy of 3 GB per month. However, mobile data while roaming is in the 100MBs to 200 MBs range per travelled month.
Consumers found many solutions already for this problem, it is inconvenient but real. Instead of drinking important water , consumers that are travelling buy local water, that i sthey buy local sim cards.Like the T-Mobile prepaid card for tourists https://prepaid.t-mobile.com/prepaid/marketing/prepaid-international-tourist-plan
Yes they loose their numbers , yes they have to cary the original sim in their pocket and not loose it. Hey, instead of paying $10 , $20 dollars per day … 80% of the world travelers are not using the convenience of mobile data while roaming like they do at home. They have purchased local Sim cards from the local mobile operator. They cary around a second phone sometimes. They do rent wifi hot spots.
The need is simple : ‘I want water tastes and costs like the water I drink at home.’ Isn’t data like water more or less? People drink water 15 times a day or so. How many times people check their phones? 80 times according to many research. The data deprivation while traveling internationally called roaming has caused consumers on a global scale pain. Normally, traveling increases data dependency , one needs to find new places, drive to unknown directions, convert currencies and share beloved ones memories and share experiences. It should be safe to assume increase will be twice (2x) as much. Hence, instead of the postulated 6 GBs, consumers spend 100 Mbs or less or some 80% not at all. If this is not deprivation what is?
The mobile industry has produced 5% of world economy, with its impact on other ecosystem partners so far. Immersing travelers into the experiences of other lands gives us humans, another opportunity to connect human kind at a deeper level especially with the promise of 5G , augmented reality, streaming experiences via Oculus Go type of headsets. So this could give help resolving problems of a troubled world. More on that later in this series…