We spoke to Syniverse’s Senior Director Product Management, Douwe van der Heij, about the growth of the IoT ecosystem and why the effective monetisation of roaming will be crucial for telcos

The IoT is set to expand at an incredible rate, with a recent forecast predicting that the market will swell to $1.463 trillion by 2027. Connected devices will soon be everywhere, from smart appliances in our homes to sensors monitoring business critical operations in a multitude of professional settings.
Many of these devices will need to roam across borders at various times, with some even set to exist indefinitely within another network. As a result, IoT roaming will present a major opportunity as a revenue stream for telcos, but it is not without its challenges. 
One key issue, as is so often the case with emerging technologies, is effective billing, and this is especially the case when it comes to IoT roaming.
“IoT roaming has provoked the need for a major shift in wholesale roaming,” said Syniverse’s Senior Director Product Management, Douwe van der Heij. “Basically, the charging models will need to adapt to those new use cases.” 

Fortunately, the necessity of this transformation has quickly been recognised by the industry. The existing billing standard, Transferred Account Procedures (TAP), has served the industry well since its introduction in 1991 and will likely continue to be used for years to come. However, TAP is simply too complex and rigid to support future technologies like IoT and 5G.
As a result, the GSMA has been quick to pivot and develop new standards better suited to the new technologies, introducing a process called Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) last year. This new standard introduces a new level of flexibility to charging models, as well as simplifying various processes to support specific 5G and IoT roaming models.
But of course, BCE adoption will take time and implementing these standards alongside an existing TAP structure is potentially challenging. However, Douwe notes the two standards can co-exist smoothly and the use of both standards could actually be beneficial in some cases.
“It’s perfectly possible to run them in parallel and there might even be some benefits in doing so, in terms of how you deal with billing of roaming in general,” said Douwe.
For Douwe and Syniverse, the key for operators in adopting BCE will be unlocking a clearer monetisation path for various types of roaming.
“What we’ve done at Syniverse is overlaid those standards with mediation functions and workflows with the objective of removing friction from the monetisation path for operators,” he explained. “We’ve basically laid the foundation for customers to scale up their roaming business. Whether we’re talking about 5G or the IoT, charging models need to adapt for those new characteristics.”
With the IoT growing at such a rate, quick adoption of the latest standards and solutions will be vital in order to capitalise effectively. Major mobile network operators are already beginning to implement BCE, with the Covid-19 pandemic only serving to further the business case for IoT roaming and the necessity for effective billing.
“The importance of IoT roaming has simply grown as an alternate source of income,” explained Douwe. “As the IoT and 5G roaming continues to grow, the need to be ready with BCE is imperative.”
You can watch our full interview with Douwe from the link above.

If you want to hear more from Douwe on the topic of monetising the IoT, you can register for free now for our latest webinar ‘Monetising IoT Globally: Mapping the Journey from IoT Roaming to Revenue Growth’. Register here today