CMI adds new features to 5G-enabled IPX

Johannesburg, 16 Jul 2021
Read time 5min 30sec
Dr Li Feng, Chairman and CEO of CMI.
Dr Li Feng, Chairman and CEO of CMI.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to our daily lives and business operations across all sectors. Companies had to explore ways to reshape their business models through digitalisation to meet their customers’ needs. For many businesses, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation at a previously unimagined pace.

Telcos need to prepare their post-pandemic recovery path. The commercial roll-out of 5G in Africa commenced earlier this year and large-scale deployment will be the next step. With new technologies in place and economic recovery on the way, providing reliable roaming services has become more important than ever before.

China Mobile International (CMI) is forging ahead to deliver market-leading IPX solutions worldwide, supporting 4G and 5G growth, and recently added two new features to future-proof its iConnect roaming technologies.

CMI believes telecommunications technology plays a key role in intelligent digitalisation, driving the ongoing transformation of business operations through digital technologies. As one of the leading 4G and 5G service providers, the company has therefore accelerated the application of 4G and 5G across business sectors and to serve the wider needs of society.

CMI’s ongoing progress is expected to help address growing demand across Africa for constant and reliable network connectivity, larger bandwidths and low latency at lower prices. The 2020s are expected to see a surge in capacity demand, underpinning further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people across Africa. To prepare for this potential surge in demand, CMI’s iConnect IPX has connected with six operators in Africa so far, delivering seamless and high-performance solutions to support 5G and 4G roaming.

CMI iConnect IPX is a secure and integrated IP-based platform running on a high-speed private network. It supports signalling, diameter (S6a) and IPX/GRX between roaming operators. It can also generate more value by providing SMS interconnection, voice and more.

Says Dr Li Feng, Chairman and CEO of CMI: “Since the launch of our IPX services in 2014, CMI has been committed to providing the best roaming experience for operators worldwide. As an IPX global market leader, CMI has become the world’s fourth IPX carrier to secure over 100 on-net operators.”

Future-proofing with 5G

Striving to future-proof connections, CMI is investing heavily to ensure that its iConnect IPX is one of the first platforms to support 5G roaming services for operators worldwide. More than 80 5G roaming connections have successfully launched through iConnect IPX, reducing costs and time to market.

Feng says: “In 2020, we upgraded our capacity with China Mobile to 100G, making CMI the only gateway of China Mobile able to support tremendous future growth in 5G roaming data usage from consumers and the great potential of internet of things applications.”

In China, where China Mobile has the largest 5G coverage worldwide and, by the end of May 2021 had 211 million 5G package subscribers, all 5G roaming with China Mobile is supported by CMI iConnect IPX.

This 5G capability is in line with CMI’s ongoing investment in reliable, scalable and quality IPX services with low latency at an affordable price. IPX services are delivered through an extensive global network and self-owned MPLS backbone, formed by 16 cables system with nine self-built submarine cables and a robust network of 180 POPs, of which 75 POPs support IPX connectivity.

Since entering sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, CMI has forged strategic partnerships with most local carriers. CMI and its partners are building 2Africa, the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve Africa and the Middle East, which will link with its SEA-ME-WE 5 and AAE-1 subsea cable resources to extend connectivity from the region to Asia.

CMI’s extensive global infrastructure supports African customers with reliable, scalable and resilient network resources, which include over 70 cable resources, with network capacity of over 97T. Among the 180 POPs around the world, over 20 are located in major African countries, including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. CMI’s strong global network provides internet direct access and internet transit services for regional customers at a lower cost.

New features for enhanced roaming

Building roaming relationships with numerous mobile operators one by one is time-consuming and a drain on resources. New CMI iConnect IPX features include iConnect Sponsored Roaming, which facilitates instant set-up or expansion of roaming coverage and services because CMI manages all the related wholesale roaming agreements and activities. This allows customers to offer immediate coverage globally, or to countries and areas where they do not yet have roaming in place, including Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The new iConnect Speed Control Service helps operators provide end-users with hassle-free roaming services at a competitive price. This platform optimises operators’ capacity utilisation to control data consumption and prevent abuse in usage. With an unlimited number of policy rules, operators can control uplink and downlink speeds by a user’s individual IMSI identifier or an IMSI range. The policy will also be able to support flexible roaming plans, customised for specific networks or regions, and offer VIP whitelist and SMS notifications about usage to their end-users.

In addition to these new features, the CMI iConnect Mobile portal, launched in 2019, enables customers to prepare for a potential surge in demand. Increased data visibility also helps them better manage IPX traffic and performance. The portal provides a fast way to check IPX signalling and bandwidth usage. Customers can compare usage by different criteria and enhance performance if bandwidth exceeds their subscribed usage. Customers can also set up bandwidth utilisation and location update successful rate alerts to proactively respond to a service interruption or a traffic surge beyond a specified limit. They can report detailed active roamer statistics, including by handset model. CMI provides all these tools free of charge to operator customers.

CMI also connects operators worldwide through its Hand-in-Hand Program, promoting collaborative partnerships, as well as partnering with many major IPX carriers to offer timely service and local support to global customers.

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