By Cara Murphy, JT Head of Roaming and Carrier Relations
Roaming is big business.
Analysts predicted earlier this year that by 2019, global mobile data roaming will be worth an eye-watering £31.8 billion – more than half of the total value of current roaming revenues.
Growth of data roaming demands in Europe and Asia is being driven by a simple factor: we’re growing more accustomed to accessing data connectivity at all times to the extent that it’s simply accepted that we can make video calls, access Cloud platforms and rely upon quick download and upload times. Our expectation is that data services are available wherever we are, 24/7 – and now that 4G mobile networks are being established globally and accessed widely, this is becoming a reality.
At JT, we have seen these developments emerging and made certain we’re at the forefront of the roaming revolution for three reasons:
Firstly, over the last 15 years our team of dedicated roaming experts, who sit in the wholesale division here at JT, (distinct from the part of the business that offers domestic residential and business services) have focused significant efforts, into developing a network of roaming agreements with operators from all over the world.
JTs’ independence and that we operate our own infrastructure has become an asset because major foreign operators are more prepared to deal with a smaller, agile company than to cut a deal with their competitors.
The result is that, JT has a widely spread network of 550 direct roaming agreements that cover multiple networks in virtually every country in the world – that coverage rivals, and indeed surpasses in some cases, some of the major established players in the global telecommunications industry. This is a major asset to be proud of as by contrast, some of our domestic rivals have around a third of that number.
Secondly, the volume of traffic that passes over our network is vast, predominantly due to our growing M2M business and wholesale roaming products that allow smaller operators to access our roaming interconnections. For example, JT has recently partnered with two global organisations to help provide their customers with enhanced roaming services, which run into the millions, Thirdly, we have recently invested £12 million in a state-of-the-art 4G LTE Advanced network in the Channel Islands to ensure we have the latest, innovative technology.
Combining, the quality of our roaming coverage, the volume of traffic carried over it and launching our own 4G network has meant that much larger operators are now actively beginning to approach us. Having a roaming agreement with us, allows them to benefit from JT’s existing roaming traffic, and in turn it means that our growing volume of data traffic will also pass over their network.
More importantly, it means they’re able to set-up a 4G roaming agreement with us.
Why are they so keen? Because they are already beginning to see customers move their business purely on the basis of who can provide them with 4G roaming. That alone has placed operators, big and small, in fierce competition to establish extensive 4G agreements quickly.
To give an example, at an event last month, our roaming team were invited to meet with the second biggest player in the business – a company with more than 216 million customers and revenues of £35 billion – because they are keen to negotiate an agreement with JT to capture the growing traffic we have currently and predict for the future, based on the growth of our M2M and wholesale roaming products, and ekit, the innovative roaming telecommunication specialists’ who JT acquired in 2011.
The agreements between operators are set-up to ensure we can easily add-on further services as technology progresses; however these new services still need to be tested and launched, which has become the JT roaming teams priority for 2015. We are currently on the threshold of announcing our first 4G roaming agreement with the UK and will have 4G roaming in place across Europe, Asia and the US by the end of the year.
JT are, for the first time, leading at an industry level. The fact that our 4G system is built on a future-proof LTE Advanced network that is essentially the highest-grade 4G system available today – means we’re a very attractive business partner. But why is all this important for you our local customers? Firstly the work of teams involved help to bring valuable revenue back to the Island, which means we can continue to invest in our infrastructure locally and is good for the overall economy of Jersey. Secondly through the relationships that have been forged over years, means our local-customers can ‘roam with confidence’ knowing that thanks to JT they can be assured of best pricing and superfast, worldwide roaming.