Skip to main content
Nov 17 2017

No limits on roaming with small cells

We spend a lot of time looking at the screens of our mobile devices, but when we travel, our habits change and we’re more cautious. Data roaming alert!. We’re quick to switch off roaming as we board airplanes and warn our kids too, in order to avoid huge data charges on our next phone bill.

Roaming charges have been perhaps one of the biggest irritations for mobile users over the years. But this is changing. This summer saw a major disruption in the mobile landscape as the European Union ended roaming charges for citizens of member states. Effectively, consumers can now use their mobile devices freely when traveling throughout the EU, paying the same price as they do at home and allowing them to ‘Roam like at home,’ or RLAH in the jargon.

And it’s not just Europe. Some operators in the USA and Latin America are following suit with RLAH deals. Pretty soon, users will expect to move between the USA and Europe without any difference in mobile charges and it won’t be long before other regions fall into line. Both mobile voice and data roaming use will boom, with some estimates expecting them to grow ten-fold1. Instead of high price, low volume, roaming will shift to low price, high volume.

Customers with time on their hands

With often long waits at passport control and luggage belts, it makes sense to provide the best possible user experience to travelers with time on their hands. Accelerating customer experience improvement programs at busy airports and other termini could help operators find fresh revenue streams by capturing the new willingness of customers to use their mobiles more when abroad.

So, what’s the best technology to deliver high-quality coverage inside large buildings like airport terminals? We think its small cells.

Take the case of Beijing airport. Passengers rightly expected the very best connectivity. But there was a problem. The high ceilings meant that the existing Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Hybrid DAS struggled to provide coverage at floor level of the airport’s Terminal 3. The installation also lacked capacity.

Small cells create big revenue boost

Two Nokia Flexi Zone small cells were installed to cover the departure lounge and dining and shopping areas. The results were dramatic – no sooner had they had been installed than the small cells were making money, producing an increase of €738/ hour in roaming revenue and effectively paying for the installation within a day.

The Beijing project shows how small cells are the ideal solution for an operator’s CTO and development managers – CTOs need to blend old and new technologies to meet rising demand and offer new services, while segment managers want to protect profitability, create new business and extract maximum value from customer demand.

Download this case study for more information.

Compact and lightweight, small cells are a very cost-effective way to provide coverage and capacity in large indoor spaces and their high performance, reliable connectivity can significantly boost revenue in airports and other transport hubs.

Without roaming charges, traffic will rise where travelers congregate – but with small cells, operators can absorb this and continue to profit, while offering excellent service.

Visit our Smalls Cells webpage for more use cases and information.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #smallcells

Reference: 1 The Roaming Tsunami, Wyman, 2016

About Rita Pallag

Meet Rita, a true marketeer and tech enthusiast. She lives an "always-on lifestyle" and is passionate about connecting with people in today’s modern digital landscape. Rita truly believes in the power of IoT and how it not only complements her everyday life, but is shaping the world. Connect with Rita on LinkedIn