Permanent roaming is still a headache for multi-country IoT
Permanent roaming is still a headache for multi-country IoT

Permanent roaming is still a headache for multi-country IoT

The idea that the challenge of Permanent Roaming has been solved in recent years is overly optimistic. It continues to represent a threat to the success of multi-country IoT projects that rely on cellular connectivity. Matt Hatton, from Transforma Insights, explores what it is and why it might be a problem for you. 

Matt Hatton is a founding partner of Transforma Insights and former founder and CEO of Machina Research. He is a thought-leader in Digital Transformation and IoT and the co-author of 'The Internet of Things Myth.

During the 2010s many regulators, for instance in Brazil, China, India and Turkey, introduced, or more rigorously enforced, rules that prohibited permanent roaming. The regulations prohibited devices that are registered in another country from existing permanently in a roaming state within the market. Sometimes the rules were explicitly against permanent roaming and in other cases were based on local registration requirements or tax obligations. The regulators are often motivated to protect the local market and enforce local rules with which a roaming connection may not comply, e.g. lawful intercept. Besides this, roaming was never envisaged to include a foreign device permanently being in a state of roaming. There were also commercial equivalents, particularly in the US and Canada, where the operators themselves prohibited their roaming partners from having devices permanently roaming on their networks.

Why is it a problem?

Permanent Roaming is a problem for two reasons: Firstly, unless the connectivity that underpins your application is compliant with the regulations or commercial rules from host operators, your device will probably be disconnected without any prior warning. This will have very serious implications for continuity of service and customer satisfaction. It can also mean significant additional cost, including that of reconnecting disconnected devices, legal fees and potentially a hike in access charges. 

The second reason why it is a problem is because roaming is widely relied on for providing connectivity to IoT devices. In the most extreme cases 50% of cellular IoT connections in a country might be connected using ‘roaming’ (even though they mostly never move). Relying on roaming is the simplest way for a connectivity provider to offer  global coverage. There’s a very good chance that your IoT solution relies on roaming.

Read the rest of the article - and what you can do about it - at Transforma Insights.

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