How Mobile Network Operators Can Win at the Tokyo Summer Olympics

Mohammad Zaman
Reading time: minutes

Conduct roaming testing in Japan to deliver an exceptional roaming experience

In mid-July, Japan will welcome thousands of people from all corners of the world for the Summer Olympics. Though the competitions are closed to international spectators, the Olympic Games still expect to attract more than 11,000 athletes and 25,000 journalists from more than 200 countries. In addition, the event draws a large supporting cast from around the globe, including coaches, trainers, officials and organizers from the International Olympic Committee.

All of these international athletes, reporters and other attendees will be using a variety of iOS and Android devices with different OS versions, and expect these devices to work consistently while in Japan. Whether they’re making calls from the airport, the Olympic Village, navigating from one venue to another, city centers, or simply checking in for a return flight home, they expect everything to work seamlessly.

With competitions scheduled in 42 different venues spread across Tokyo, Yokohama, Sapporo, and more, the Olympics require mobile network operators (MNOs) to deliver high quality roaming coverage over many locations. In order to deliver that exceptional roaming experience to these athletes and visitors, the MNOs will need to test not just around the Olympic Village and select arenas, but also at other key areas and cities in Japan.

The traditional ways mobile network operators test roaming have limits

To accurately assess roaming quality of service, MNOs must understand how mobile devices perform in real-world conditions — can subscribers easily carry out the functions most important and personal to them? There’s a lot to sort out. Will the subscriber receive the Welcome SMS message when the plane lands in Tokyo? Will they successfully be able to make calls from crowded public spaces like airports and train stations, popular tourist destinations and restaurants, text while in cars or on trains, and use apps and social media to stay connected on the go? How is the voice quality? Will the data speed rate be good enough for important social media updates from the Olympics?

Generally, MNOs test subscriber roaming in one of two ways:

  • Send a tester with multiple mobile phones and the specific mobile operator SIMs to the country where the MNO wants to test outbound roaming. This pulls valuable QA resources away from other projects, and gets costly when companies must test across multiple locations.

  • Use a SaaS cloud platform for roaming testing with static, mobile test probes (simulates mobile phones, not real devices) located in fixed locations in major cities worldwide. MNOs can conduct manual and automated testing using SIM multiplexing technology that transfers the subscriber SIM profile virtually to any remote test probe. While static probes can provide some key network KPIs to validate network connectivity, testing with a black box that is not a real mobile device, in a fixed location, doesn’t truly emulate real-world roaming behavior.

How can mobile network operators most accurately test the true roaming experience?

Applause’s Roaming Testing enables MNOs to accurately assess roaming performance by equipping real people to test key functionality at any location in over 200 countries. Using their own Android and iOS mobile devices, our curated testing teams recreate the true roaming experience: making calls, sending texts, making social media updates, streaming event coverage and performing other typical tasks while on the go. This approach has several advantages over traditional roaming testing:

  • Test under different network conditions - A static probe in optimal network conditions doesn’t give an MNO real-world insight to roaming performance. Applause uses real mobile devices to test in different network conditions.

  • Test in fixed and mobile environments - Subscribers do unpredictable things. Journeys can be replicated and testing performed at multiple locations for special events or tourist destinations. For example, you can test the subscriber’s entire roaming experience journey from arriving at the airport, receiving the Welcome SMS message, getting into a taxi, checking emails and social apps during the taxi ride, until he/she arrives and checks in at the hotel.

  • Extensive device & OS coverage - Tests can also be done across multiple handset vendors, with the option of requesting particular models and OS versions. This enables device comparison testing to see how they respond to the same test, under the same conditions.

  • Test more than basic data services - Test the full roaming user experience, including OTT app performance, social media, and interactive services like customer care, top-up, and SMS campaigns.

With all eyes on Tokyo next month, it’s time to make sure your roaming partner helps you deliver Olympic gold to your subscribers. Learn more about Roaming Testing with Applause.

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