Why we need

“Innovative Operators”

London, Tuesday, 11th May, 2021

A new organisation “Innovative Operators” (IO) is launched today to help support Mobile Operators in the acceleration of Roaming and Interconnect projects.

The Roaming and Interconnect industry finds itself at a defining moment. There are opportunities and there is a clear future for Roaming, but following a period of disruption: regulations, alternative roaming solutions and OTT’s, the industry faces not one, but multiple and simultaneous challenges for which most mobile network operators (MNOs) are ill prepared.

For Roaming and Interconnect to continue to succeed, the whole ecosystem must be in step. Unless MNOs join together, a lack of innovation can and will create massive issues for the end customers, with domestic services, not functioning when customers go abroad.

Over the last few years, the Wholesale Roaming world has skewed towards Roaming teams strengthening their commercial negotiation teams. After extending the roaming footprint across the world, most MNO’s eased up on continuing to invest in roaming expertise. In 2015 41% of Roaming teams surveyed said that their companies supported them to attend industry meetings where the development of roaming processes were discussed. In 2019, this had come down to just 9%. (Source: ROCCO Research) This has led to a situation where slowly but steadily there’s been a huge deficit created in roaming expertise. This has translated to very few people in the industry having an end to end view of what’s happening and the implications of this.

Clearly, what the industry needs is an injection of innovation and education. In 2019 it was recognised by a multi-operator group led initiative that something tangible had to happen about this situation and initiatives like the VoLTE Roaming Taskforce  (VRT) were developed.

Building on top of VRT “Innovative Operators” (named based on the key element which mobile operators felt was needed in the industry) has now been formed. As an MNO only membership organisation, its labs will be run by MNOs with solutions to the challenges of Roaming and Interconnect as its core objective. GSMA is clearly the home of standards and Innovative Operators supports and ensures MNOs understand that working on standards is not in scope for the accelerator platform. Says Director General of IO Jason Bryan, formerly of Vodafone, Chair of GSMA Groups and founder of ROCCO, “Once standards work is completed with the GSMA, there’s still a huge need out there for MNOs to understand how they can deliver roaming. As with any engineering process, once in IO, the MNOs will have the chance to test, explore opportunities, come with ideas of how deploy their roaming footprints in an environment based on education and collaboration”.

The organisation is right now signing up its founding members, building its board and working to appoint its Chairman. Innovative Operators seeks to adopt a board made up of MNOs of all sizes, from all regions which represents not only the tier one MNOs challenges but a diverse and global perspective. The IO logo was developed with this in mind, to represent the 7 continents of the world working together.

Dhiraj Wazir, Director of Programmes at IO sees the organisation as a way to bring focus on the much-needed area of Wholesale Roaming and Interconnect. “In recent times, we’ve often felt like there’s less options for MNOs to discuss their challenges with Wholesale Roaming. We know that if MNOs don’t collaborate in solving these challenges, we’re unlikely to really develop tangible solutions. While it’s great that MNO groups have initiatives to solve challenges, this is international roaming and we know that MNOs from across the globe need to collaborate to adopt solutions for their challenges and identify opportunities for all.”

About Innovative Operators

Innovative Operators, founded in 2021, seeks to assist global mobile operators of all sizes in the optimal delivery of roaming services. It is a non-profit organisation, whose members are exclusively from global mobile operators. Its board working groups (Labs) are all chaired and run by mobile operators.

Director General, Jason Bryan, and Dhiraj Wazir, Director of Programmes are available for interviews about how Innovative Operators is working today and what its plans are for the future.

Contact: Media Liaison Desirée Fenix for appointments.

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