Using Permanent Roaming For Your Internet Of

Using permanent roaming for your internet of

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What is Permanent Roaming? The worst-case scenario is that a company that has
The concept of roaming for cellular phones has been well contracted in good faith with a network operator partner
established for many years. A device with a SIM card finds that devices in a particular market have to be
registered in one territory can be used in another territory switched off. This can happen suddenly and with little
based on a reciprocal agreement between the two mobile warning

network operators including the exchange of roaming fees

To get back to compliance might require a ‘truck-roll’, i.e

For IoT devices, which may be deployed in, and/or moved
sending a person to replace the SIM card. Transforma
between, any country in the world, roaming can be very
Insights estimates that the average truck-roll to replace a
useful. In fact, for IoT specifically, being in a roaming state
SIM card is USD190 per device ((and in many cases much
can be very useful as a roaming device can usually make
more). Extended to your entire base this is likely to amount
use of more than one network, whereas a domestic device
to an eye-watering cost to return to compliance, and a very
is typically limited only to the parent network

poor customer service while you are going through the
During the 2010s many regulators, for instance in Brazil, process. There is also likely to be a significant legal bill
China, India and Turkey, introduced, or more rigorously associated with the issue

enforced, rules that prohibited permanent roaming. The
In markets such as in North America where limits on
regulations prohibited devices that are registered in
permanent roaming stem from the operators choosing not
another country from existing permanently in a roaming
to support it (rather than a regulatory ban), being caught
state within the market. Sometimes the rules were
infringing rules may not result in being removed from the
explicitly against permanent roaming and in other cases
network but may incur a significant increase in fees as a
were based on local registration requirements or tax
punitive measure against those operators and MVNOs that
obligations. The regulators are often motivated to protect
may have been selling permanent roaming connectivity. We
the local market and enforce local rules with which a
have seen a significant increase in this type of behaviour
roaming connection may not comply, e.g. lawful intercept

from North American operators in 2020 and early 2021

Besides this, roaming was never envisaged to include a
foreign device permanently being in a state of roaming. The second reason why it is a problem is because roaming
There is also a financial element to some of the decision- is widely relied on for providing connectivity to IoT devices

making as roaming devices don't attract the same taxes as In the most extreme cases 50% of cellular IoT connections
domestic devices in some territories, for example Brazil in a country might be connected using ‘roaming’ (even
and Turkey. though they mostly never move). Relying on roaming is the
simplest way for a connectivity provider to offer global
There were also commercial equivalents, particularly in the
coverage. It may not be transparent to the buyer, but
US and Canada, where the operators themselves
mobile network operators and mobile virtual network
prohibited their roaming partners from having devices
operators (MVNOs) frequently use roaming to connect
permanently roaming on their networks

devices on other operator networks. This contrasts with the
Why is it a problem? fact that less than 2% of cellular connections actually roam
regularly, and therefore justify the use of an out-of-
Permanent Roaming is a problem for two reasons. Firstly
footprint SIM card

because compliance with regulations and partner operator
rules are essential for continuity of service. Unless the The rest of the IoT market is split between the 48% of IoT
connectivity that underpins your application is compliant devices which are static (e.g. ATMs, elevators and smart
with the regulations or commercial rules from host meters) and have no prospect of ever moving to another
operators, your device will probably be disconnected country, and the 50% which can potentially roam (e.g

without any prior warning. This will have very serious connected cars, offender tags, and smart watches) but
implications for continuity of service, customer satisfaction certainly have a ‘home’ market and would be caught by
and cost. permanent roaming rules if the connectivity in that home
Position Paper: Permanent Roaming
market were provided using roaming. Many of both types the adoption of regulations to encourage permanent
of devices rely on roaming today. roaming: "To foster competition and innovation in the
single market, and secure a more level playing field
Who does it affect? between established operators and new entrants, it is
It potentially affects everyone who uses cellular connectivity suggested to closely look at the possibility to introduce
to connect their IoT devices. Just because you’re not aware access obligations for M2M/IoT connectivity services
of it does not mean that you are not using roaming today requiring permanent roaming."
with the potential for non-compliance in future

Those applications where the device really does roam
What should you do about it?
Your connections must be compliant with the laws of the
between countries e.g. shipping containers, don’t have
market and the rules of the host network operators. The
much to worry about. But that doesn’t apply to the vast
simplest way of doing this is to contract directly with a local
majority of devices

operator which runs its own network. This is an obvious
In particular it affects customers that have their devices solution for an application whose deployment is
deployed in multiple territories. If you’re limited to a single geographically limited such as smart metering or smart
country the chances are that your partner operator or cities

MVNO will use an appropriate approach. If you have a
If you need to connect in multiple territories you can opt for
device estate deployed across multiple countries, however,
a multi-IMSI approach, which sees the SIM card on your
it’s important to check that your supplier is meeting their
device having multiple profiles from multiple different
obligations to support your connections in an appropriate
operators. It can then select from these as appropriate in

order to ensure your connectivity is compliant

Where will it cause problems? The most recently available solution is eSIM. This can
The rules about permanent roaming vary dramatically proactively update the SIM profile on your device to select
between countries (as illustrated on the map above). In a local profile, or other appropriate one. This can
some there are explicit rules either prohibiting permanent guarantee connectivity as if it were a local SIM

roaming itself (for example Brazil, China, Turkey) or
Both multi-IMSI and eSIM will allow your to connect to an
implicitly doing so through requirements for connectivity to
appropriate network within the territory in which the device
be provided by a locally registered supplier (e.g. Middle
is operating. Most importantly, however, you should speak
East). In others (e.g. Australia, US) the rules are set by the
to whoever provides your connectivity to check that your
operators themselves, which may choose to allow or
are confident that they provide a connectivity solution that
prohibit permanent depending on their relationship with the
is compliant with the local rules

provider of your connectivity

Ensuring compliance with regulator and partner rules about
In other countries there are no rules, and in some it is even
permanent roaming has become a critical potential
being seen as a positive thing. BEREC, the umbrella
stumbling block for multi-country IoT deployments

organisation for telecommunications regulators in Europe is
reviewing the rules but has stated that it may encourage [email protected] @TransformaTweet
Position Paper: Permanent Roaming

Position Paper: Permanent Roaming What is Permanent Roaming? The concept of roaming for cellular phones has been well established for many years. A device with a SIM card registered …

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is roaming and why is it important for enterprise iot?

Roaming is the historical solution for connecting consumer cellular devices outside of their domestic market. When an IoT device is connected to a network outside its home country for more than 90 days, it is deemed to be permanently roaming and risks being disconnected from the network. The implications for enterprise IoT deployments include:

What is permanent roaming?

What is Permanent Roaming? Permanent roaming refers to connecting a device to a country that is not its ‘home’ territory after a designated period, such as three months. Traditionally, roaming has been used for mobile phones by business travellers or holidaymakers who are not expected to stay in a country for more than a few weeks.

Do i need to activate international roaming before i travel?

If you are willing to pay the charges, verify with your carrier that international roaming is activated before you travel. For most U.S. customers, domestic service plans do not cover usage abroad. Rates may be much higher because of additional roaming fees on foreign mobile networks and may vary from country to country and network to network.

Is roaming ruining the internet of things?

Today’s IoT issues are coming to light as solutions that rely on roaming as their main mode of connection are now seeing a decrease in coverage. Permanent roaming is effectively prohibited in China, Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE.