The Technology Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) in partnership with the African Union Commission yesterday launched Africa’s first GSM Global Roaming Exchange (GRX).
Hosted at the East Africa Data Centre (EADC), the Global GSM Roaming Exchange (GRX) is very similar to the most common IP Internet Exchange and is built and operated on the same principles. GRX, is a special service within an IPX that is established to facilitate efficient interconnection and peering between a group of GSM Mobile Network Operators; so as to support GPRS/UMTS roaming, and Mobile Network Operators service Interworking.
“All african GSM mobile operators can get access to other networks through the KIXP Global GRX to provide customers with mobile capabilities such as roaming, phone calls , data transfers and messaging. Mobile operators as well as currnet KIXP peering community will benefit from global coverage arising from the connections and secure network routes,” said Ms.Fiona Asonga , C.E.O Tespok.
Roaming the ability of a mobile device to work outside the home coverage area provided by its primary Mobile Network Operator for example when customers travel and use their phones or modems whilst on a foreign (“visited”) network. The most common mobile roaming services are:
1. SMS: Sending and receiving SMS text messages whilst roaming.
2. MMS: Exchanging rich multimedia messages while roaming with other customers on GSM/3G networks at home (or roaming as well).
3. Push e-mail: Reading and replying to e-mails while abroad, automatically ‘pushed’ to mobile devices such as Smart Phones and Tablets.
4. Mobile internet: Using feature phones, smart phones and tablets to access internet services such as Web pages, Web applications, music downloads and video streaming whilst roaming.
5. Mobile broadband: Connecting laptops via broadband modem to the internet to access applications such as e-mail, Web browsers and enterprise networks whilst roaming.
6. Carrier-grade WLAN: Connecting mobile devices via ‘Carrier-grade’ WLAN to the internet to access applications such as e-mail, Web browsers and enterprise networks whilst roaming. This is used to mitigate high load of traffic currently experienced by MNOs.
Interworking is the ability of a service offered to subscribers of one MNO to communicate with a similar service offered to subscribers of a different MNO. These days, MNOs have to interwork with wireless operators and Fixed Network Operators. Due to market forces, operators are constantly looking to improve reliability, capacity, efficiency and profitability of the Interworking through 3rd party GRX/IPX operators.The global roaming exchange will help in cutting cost of mobile operators ,removing the need for a dedicated link between each mobile service provider.GRX will help to reduce the roaming charges and facilitate easy connectivity to the exchange.
“The presence of GRX here in Kenya and Africa is expected to enhance the mobile communications services and particularly roaming operations. By keeping African content within the continent we are all helping to build Africa’s digital future,” said Ben Roberts, CEO Liquid Telecom Kenya.