LTE (also known as 4G) is offering quicker download speeds among other advantages, as discussed in a previous Gemalto blog post. Some fortunate people in the United States, Japan, South Korea or Sweden are experiencing the speed of LTE, mobile broadband in their everyday life. By 2016 more than 500 million people will benefit from this technology, which is boasting a fast adoption rate. LTE will likely change the way we use mobile devices making the world a more connected place and will be a boost to the roaming market.
While LTE is developing so fast, it is still in its infancy, which means LTE roaming is a new opportunity and challenge for the mobile operators. A few operators have already jumped at the opportunity: While Verizon Wireless expects to sign its first LTE roaming agreement this year, SK South Korea and TeliaSonera Sweden have launched their LTE roaming offers, seeing in such service a way to monetize their LTE network as well as gaining a competitive advantage through the improved end-user quality of experience.
What is slowing down the process? A recent CNET article cites spectrum, in other words radio frequency spectrum, as the culprit – Neville Ray from T-Mobile USA explains “the fragmentation in 4G is driven by spectrum scarcity.” Put simply, LTE needs a large spectrum to function properly, which is creating a problem as there is no longer free spectrum available worldwide.
How are operators getting their hands on additional spectrum? First, governments are organizing ole’ fashioned auctions. One auction was recently hosted by Ofcom in the UK between various mobile operators with the goal of leading to “faster mobile broadband speeds, lower prices, greater innovation, new investment and better coverage.” Operators can also recycle – meaning reuse in their LTE network – the frequencies already available for 2G.
Our involvement is to provide reliable roaming solutions to mobile operators, giving them easy transparency to their users. Currently, cell phones are unable to support all LTE frequencies and may not work with all LTE networks. Our device-based steering platform gives people the ease to be connected to the best LTE network available, which is compatible with their device. For example, frequent travelers may not be aware of the roaming options available when traveling. Smart Bon Voyage gives travelers the opportunity to interact with their mobile operator and find the best roaming solution abroad.
Personally, I look forward to the day when I am traveling for either business or pleasure and LTE roaming is available worldwide –connectivity wherever you are, regardless of where you are.