" ITREALMS: Glo Gateway, expanding horizon for mobiles


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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Glo Gateway, expanding horizon for mobiles

Recently Glo Gateway unleashed its roaming deals for the prepaid users on the network. Remmy Nweke, reports that the step is expanding the horizon of all the mobile subscribers in the country and beyond.

The telecom international gateway subsidiary of the Second National Operator (SNO), Glo Gateway fortnight ago announced the expansion of its prepaid roaming destinations to six more countries, namely Spain, South Africa, Belgium, Turkey, Ukraine and Algeria.

Significantly this compliments the postpaid roaming services available in over 140 countries of the world on Glo network.

The impact of this development, according to the Head, Glo Gateway, Mr. Charles Odiase began in May 2005 when the SNO launched its prepaid roaming, starting with the United Kingdom (UK), even as arrangements have been advanced then to extend the service to the United States (US) and some European and Middle East countries, which he described as a sign of the telco’s commitment to the convenience of its subscribers.

“We want to make it possible for postpaid as well as prepaid subscribers to access our services even when they are abroad on business or leisure,” he declared.

The CAMEL versus USSD option:
He explained that Glo prepaid roaming service is offered on the Customized Application for Mobile Enhanced Logic (CAMEL) phase 2 roaming methodology which is the latest innovation in prepaid roaming.

CAMEL is superior to the one way roaming where customers could only receive calls and the Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) roaming obtainable in some other African countries.

Though Glo Mobile prides itself as the first to introduce the CAMEL phase 2 roaming in the country, the option of CAMEL phase 2 enables the prepaid customers to make and receive calls as well as receive text messages while roaming outside Nigeria.

While USSD, for instance, allows for the transmission of information via a Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) network. Contrasting with Short Messaging Service (SMS), it offers real time connection during a session, even as a USSD message could be upto 182 alphanumeric characters in length.

As said by Odiase, to enjoy prepaid roaming service on the network, a Glo Mobile prepaid customer simply needs to recharge his account after which he will be able to use it while roaming. Thus, such a customer would be able to maintain the same number when he travels abroad.

Benefits to subscriber:
“The subscriber is able to stay in touch with friends, family and business associates back home and the service offers users unimaginably crisp and clear calls. The quality of service makes him feel as if he is next door even when he is thousands of kilometres away,” he stressed.

Other benefits of the service as outlined by him, for subscribers comprise the ability to control his usage since it is a prepaid service and the fact that he is not required to make any deposits or fill out any documentation to enjoy the service, as is the case with postpaid roaming. This, industry watchers said depicts a plus for Glo Gateway.

ITRealms Online recalls that barely a year after its commercial launch, the Glo Gateway, a subsidiary of Globacom in August 2004, made its debut. This, the telco said was in fulfillment of its avalanche of licenses including Glo Mobile, Glo Gateway, Glo Fixed and as a national operator.

Basically, Glo Gateway is the international wholesale voice and data exchange otherwise known as roaming, in addition to standing out as the Trading Business Unit (TDU) of the SNO.

Thus, Glo Gateway has positioned Globacom to provide telephone hubbing services for the rest of the world by the commissioning of its international switches in phases across five of the six continents of the world.

Giving some insights into the modalities of the Glo Gateway, Odiase said that the subsidiary facilitates international calls to and from Nigeria on Globacom and other operators who may depend on the network to deliver promptly.

Launching switches in phases:
On completion of the phased deployment, he said, Globacom plans to have gateway infrastructure and switches not only in Africa, Europe and America, but also in Singapore and Hong Kong in Asia, the United Arab Emirate in the Middle East and the Australian continents, which are intended to strategically position the network as a major player in the global telecommunication industry.

And with the commissioning of its switch in the United Kingdom in September 2004, he pointed out that Globacom became the first operator in Africa to launch gateway switches outside the continent to carry international voice and data traffic. This was followed soon by the construction of the switches in Paris, France; Frankfurt, Germany and the United States of America, which is still going and nearing completion.

Accordingly the telco maintains four state-of-the-art Gateways in Nigeria; comprising two in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria and one each in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria and Port Harcourt, the hub of petroleum industry in the country.

Outlining the major benefits of this infrastructure development for Nigerian telephone users, Odiase said it has to do with a substantial saving on international calls due to improved voice clarity and significant reduction in call delay. This is in addition to dedicated circuits provided and managed by Globacom to ensure higher call completion rates.

What’s a telecom gateway?:
Within the telecommunications sector, the term gateway has several meanings connoting that in a communications network, a network connection is equipped for interfacing with another network that uses different protocols.

It may contain devices such as protocol translators, impedance matching devices, rate converters, fault isolators, or signal translators as necessary to provide system interoperability, which also requires the establishment of mutually acceptable administrative procedures between both networks. Hence, a protocol translation or mapping gateway interconnects networks with different network protocol technologies via performing of the required protocol conversions.

Interestingly, Glo Gateway within a year of its operation said it has engaged 193 networks globally while offering roaming in 98 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Greece, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Denmark and Hungary. Other countries in the roaming agreement include Saudi Arabia, Syria, South Africa, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and Benin Republic.

The momentous benefit, according to industry observers is that on Glo network, subscribers not only enjoy the voice and SMS within the prepaid and postpaid roaming platform respectively, but it afford them to keep in touch online through its General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) roaming and Blackberry services.

Odiase added that the introduction of GPRS roaming facility by Glo Gateway enables Glo Mobile subscribers who travel abroad for business or leisure to browse the internet and send or receive picture messages on their Glo mobile phones.

International switches:
The Glo Gateway’s international switches equally facilitate the network to directly interconnect other leading international carrier service providers, offering quality hubbing service for other operators in the world and terminate and aggregate quality traffic directly from Nigeria to the rest of the world.

Presently, Glo Gateway has direct interconnectivity deals with leading international carriers such as British Telecoms, France Telecoms, Belgacom of Belgium, Link Africa and KPN Eurovoice of Netherlands, France Telecom, IDT Global and Cable and Wireless of UK, iBasis of USA, T-Systems of Germany and Teleglobe of Canada. This has led to a significant improvement in traffic aggregation for the Nigerian telecoms market.

Notable is the Glo Link international calling card unveiled on May 9, 2005, which allows telephone users - customers of Glo mobile and others alike; to make international calls and enjoy what the telco tagged ‘superior connectivity to the outside world.’ Also, Odiase said, customers could call over 135 countries with varied tariff ranging from N15 per minute to N50 per minute, excluding access charge centred on Per Minute Billing (PMB).

And taking advantage of its state-of-the-art technology and expertise in handling international voice traffic by Glo Gateway, Glo Link international calling card, according to Odiase, was designed to address the frustrations of customers using other international calling cards in the market whose service is based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology platform.

From all indications, Glo Gateway has a very aggressive business strategy, aimed at transformed the subsidiary eventually to dominate the international carrier business on the continent.

Probably like one customer puts it: Glo is delivering on the highest possible quality, comprehensive and affordable international communications services on the continent by installing relevant infrastructure based on the best business practices and advanced communications.

And for the chief operating officer, Globacom, Mr. Jameel Mohammed, the best of Glo is yet to come, moreso now that it has begun in earnest to spread its net in the West African sub region from where to make its way to the heart of Africans with international services.

Thus, increasing the number of options available to the prepaid platform subscribers is not only helping to bridge the digital divide, between them and postpaid subscribers, but ensuring that at all levels in life, there is an opportunity for the people to be on top of their world, mostly with avalanche of communications devices available in the market place today.

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