Scott, a couple more items to add to your checklist:
- you may have a VPN or similar connection to each operator
- if you are using API calls from your server, they may need to be modified for each operator's system/platform
- you may want to disable some features of your product when the device is roaming internationally, if the roaming costs are too high for consumers
I assume that international expansion will mean more likelihood of international roaming (even if you sign with a new operator in each country). Therefore, make sure that you application handles international roaming well.
Knowing nothing about your device/app, I do not know what experience you have had to date with international roaming. However, it is common for a device to be tested against one operator and work well. Then when it roams to other operators it may not work so well - given that roaming is a less reliable service.
Example: a module will automatically search for the next operator if it fails to succeed in GSM registration with its first choice operator. But a module will not move to the next operator if it succeeds in GSM registration, but then fails to succeed in GPRS Attach or PDP Context setup (e.g. due to a congested SGSN or roaming connection failure).
Make sure you have the logic built-in to handles such situations.
Can you elaborate? Are you referring to Int'l expansion that will require you to sign new deals with operators in different regions or is this Int'l roaming.
The directions you choose will have significant impact on the work necessary to accomplish this.
One one side (roaming) you will have to have your device properly tuned to support the challenges of roaming, as well as financial considerations based on the higher costs of int'l roaming . On the other side (new carrier connections) you will have a myriad of other issues to consider.
One of the biggest considerations you have to make is how you are going to support and manage the devices globally. It is one thing to have a close realtionship with a local operator but if you are looking for a truly global launch then this becomes a really big issue. Making sure you can investigate connectivity issues and get good response from all the ooperators that you work with is crucial.
In our roll out we ignored this to our own cost. We assumed that we would have similar rrelationships globally, but getting answers back when things went wrong was painful.
That's a good point Anne. Thanks.
May I ask if you have outsourced your support organization? Are you aware of a company that provides outsourced support and has these relationships with operators? Sounds like a great value proposition. I don't know of one, but hopefully someone in this forum can chime in with suggestions.
Here is a summary extracted from our country rollout planning for Wholesale services (including Voice). Note that we typically interconnect with our own core so often offer more than what will be required for a typical M2M project so I have marked these 'extra' items with an asterisk * since you are not likely to need these components (you could probably just focus on the Wholesale and General headings):
Services for access and connectivity to mobile infrastructure.
- Core Network*: Home Location Register, MSC & Switch interconnects.
- Value Added *: Platforms for Postpaid/Prepaid, ESME, Proxies, Geocodec.
- Gateway: Balance Management*, SMPP, GGSN/AP, VPNs.
- CDR Handling: CDR Collection, Mediation, Rating & Routing.
Services for provisioning, assurance and invoicing.
- Network Services: Voice, SMS, MMS*, Data/GGSN, CGF*, OTA, USSD*, LBS.
- Network Access: Provisioning, AP & GPRS Session mgmt, Number Portability*.
- Resource Management: SIM, MSISDN, IMSI, CSC/HSC, IP & System Management.
- Wholesale Accounting: CDR delivery*, Rating, Invoicing, Reporting.
Services for support, care and billing to devices and channels.
- Order Management Services: OM Handling, Fulfillment, Channel.
- Support: Web/IVR Self-care*, CRM systems*, Contact center.
- Billing & Payment*: Rating, Invoicing, credit, Dunning.
- Risk & Fraud Management: Usage tracking, Rogue device, Archival.
• General Services
Overall Management of services for efficiency and compliance.
- Regulatory: Legal Intercept, Archival & Retrieval, Reporting, Certification.
- Process Analysis: KPI tracking, Business modeling, ETOM alignment.
- Service Management: Assurance, Release, Ticketing, Support & Monitoring.
- Contract: Project & Product Management, SLA, Pricing.
The eTOM 'Readiness' approach may also help if you are looking to deploy your own infrastructure... but this is overkill unless you have huge deployments.
If you are looking to roll out for small volume in a large number of countries it may be worthwhile using a roaming solution that can provide good rates with a single point of integration (independent of carrier and country). You will not get local rates but you will get pretty close with volume (~€1/Mbyte) - and a lot less headaches.
What about to hire a local consult? This is not expensive and can save a lot of money. The tests and approvals are different all over the world. Technical a Quad Band module will run in any GSM covered country. Practical the combination of Quad Band Module plus antenna has no problem to pass approvals in Europe but American PTCRB approval. My European customers sometimes like to make business in the States. Based on that in my concepts you find antennas with high antenna efficiency only.
BTW, our starter kits with Quad Band Modules work nice in any country. We send it always without wall plugged power supply. With power supply we have problems to pass the custom in Brazil and other countries. The GSM module is no problem, but the power supply is.
Typically we deliver services to our M2M clients as a managed service, we ship the SIMs and setup the infrastructure so that you can manage the services for your IMSIs... via APIs and CDR feeds or using our web based platform. All in about 4-6 weeks (depending on your needs for things like Access Points, SMPP, MSISDNs, SIM profiles....). I hasten to add that since this forum is not to promote any particular company: just about all the M2M providers can deliver these services like Kore, Wyless and ouselves (ASPIDER) among others... and let us not forget our kind hosts at Jasper (in addition to the MNOs themselves).
We only do a complete country rollout when we have a new MNO in a new country... and the scope of the implementation depends on whether the MNO wants to use their core, their IN, their interconnects, their racks... The items in the country rollout plan still help focus on what needs to be done (even if half of the items are already inplace) - and provide some good auditability back to the processes in eTOM. Note also that setting up a new MNO can take quite some time... from a few weeks if we use APIs - to many months (I almost said years!) if we need to buy, commission and configure HLRs and GGSNs - and manage difficult items like number portability [we should all be grateful that number portability is NOT an aspect of M2M.... ]
Our consultancy work tends to be only for large collaborative projects - I am happy to share more detail if you want to drop me an email.
I have question regarding the certification, if I have a device that is certified for example by AT& T or T-Mobile in the US and if I use their SIM card ( roaming ) in other country where the device is not certified, do I still need the certification to connect to the local network ( roaming ) or only if I put a local SIM card in the modem then I have to have a device that is already certified.
Rabiek, if your device is in a roaming scenario, then no additional certification is necessary. You should be aware that the operator does have the right to shut down your network access at any time if they find your device is causing harm to the network. However, this is a very rare occurance. So you should be fine.