How to Test Roaming Virtually

Segron Virtual Roaming

As the number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide grows (that number is now above 5 billion, according to GSMA), the market for roaming services grows with it. On the one hand, increasing demand for roaming services can put you in a position to increase revenue on a per-subscriber basis. At the same time, this growing demand comes with growing expectations—subscribers are no longer content with a dip in quality outside their home network; instead, they expect seamless international voice calling, SMS, mobile broadband, email, and application usage. If you’re not providing this with your own network functionality and interworking with roaming partners, they may seek out a new mobile carrier.

Because the stakes for providing seamless service in this area are potentially pretty high, testing and service verification for roaming is more critical. At the same time, its distributed nature makes it a sophisticated use case to test. It’s simply not practical to send a tester across a national border to perform a suite of roaming regression tests every time you make a change to your network. And yet, without these tests, you run the risk of service outages and disgruntled customers. How are telco operators supposed to cope with a situation like this? The short answer: verify roaming virtually.

How Roaming Works

Okay, before we get into some of the nitty-gritty of what makes this use case challenging to test, let’s sketch out a few key elements about roaming service and how it works: At the simplest possible level, a subscriber outside the range of home network coverage tries to place a call (or use data, send an email, etc.); they connect to the visited operator, which verifies the phone’s registration and identifies its home network; from there, the visited network routes the call to an international transit network (or, in local breakout cases, through the local network), to be picked up by the destination network, which requests additional service information and ostensibly connects the call. At each stage, the appropriate IREG protocols have to be observed, which will vary somewhat depending on whether it’s CAMEL 1, CAMEL 2, or non-CAMEL roaming (i.e., whether or not it’s prepaid).

Naturally, this needs to be verified both inbound and outbound—that is, you need to make sure that your subscribers can access your roaming partners’ network, and vice-versa. This means not only testing functionality from a subscriber phone but also making sure your own HLR/HSS is receiving the right data and provisioning service in the right way when another network connects to yours (for outbound roaming). As mentioned above, to verify all of this functionality by hand, you would necessarily have to send testers out into other countries where your network doesn’t have coverage. In an era where more and more routine use cases are being automated, testers could raise questions about how a use case like this could be incorporated into a test automation solution.

Virtual Roaming Verification

Given the nature of roaming as a service, the most promising approach for incorporating it into an existing automation framework is to verify roaming functionality virtually. When we say “virtually,” we don’t mean that the devices themselves should be simulated within a virtual environment. On the contrary, the more exacting user expectations become—and the more layers of interworking become necessary to providing seamless service—the more critical it is to test on out-of-the-box Android and iOS devices that are identical to those your subscribers will be using. But if we don’t intend the devices to be virtualized, what exactly do we mean?

The roaming itself should be performed virtually, via two separate instances of your test framework or set up in two different countries. Usually, your automated tests would all be carried out via a server based in the confines of your home network. For roaming functionality, you can set up another server outside of that home network to force out-of-network devices to connect via a roaming partner’s network. Here, your home server still performs all of the actual tests, and the same machine generates the test results—but the remote instance enables you to recreate the conditions of a user trying to connect outside of your network. From there, you can test voice calls, SMS, apps, etc. Not only that, but you can do so on a regular basis without devoting inordinate amounts of time to it, since automated test suites should be able to run in a matter of hours at most.

How Roaming Tests Impact Revenue Assurance

Okay, let’s say you’ve incorporated roaming into your suite of automated regression tests. After every network update, you’re using a test flow spread across different instances in two different countries to ensure that users roaming internationally can talk, text, and use data. Mission accomplished, right? Not so fast—there’s one element of the roaming verification equation we haven’t touched on yet: revenue assurance.

We said above that there was more money to be made in the roaming domain than ever, and that’s in large part because subscribers typically pay extra for roaming service based on pre-agreed tariffs. In order to collect the fees associated with roaming (whether from your subscribers or your roaming partners), you have to be sure that you’re recording roaming usage accurately on a per-subscriber basis. For instance, calls and data are associated with the correct user, verified, transferred to the appropriate database in your BSS systems, and reflected on the invoice you send your user. If you underreport and miss network usage, you’ll miss out on revenue. Overreport, and you can expect a disgruntled phone call from your subscriber at the very least. Luckily, this functionality can also be incorporated into robust test automation workflows. The trick is to make sure you’re using a framework that can automate and control your CRM, BSS, HLR/HSS database, and other systems involved in the revenue assurance process. You can perform virtual roaming test calls and measure the results in your back-end systems based on the test parameters. 

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TECHNICAL PROJECT MANAGER

You will be a part of the SEGRON Project Team. This will be an amazing opportunity for someone to be part of a team working in next generation cutting edge technologies such as 5G, IOT, DevOps, CI/CD and test automation.

As technical project manager, you will be responsible for understanding the different customer requirements and latest technologies around 5G, VoLTE use cases and you have to setup and align related project activities together with our customers.
You should have a strong knowledge and background in the telco environment paired with project management skills to align projects, track the related KPI’s further having a strong view also on the financial performance.

Soft Skills:
Problem Solving skills:
• Analytical & technical mindset
• Good in abstraction i.e. seeing the “big picture”
• Self-Motivated & Responsible
Team player:
• collaborates with others
• teach new skills to others and write tutorials
Others:
• Good Communication Skills
• Flexible/Entrepreneurial

Hard Skills:
• Several years of experience in Telecom Domain.
• Good expertise on 5G/4G/3G technologies and should be familiar with the network call flows
• IMS/SDM/EPC domain knowledge
• Wireshark packet analysis
• Experience in Protocol testing including HTTP2, SIP, MAP, Diameter.
• Sound understanding of Telco Cloud technologies such as VNFI, Open Stack.
• Sound knowledge in Linux/CentOS, TCP/IP stack
• DevOps knowledge.

Nice to have skills:
• Understanding of 5G network elements and interfaces is plus.
• Robot Framework / Python

Specific additional information:
• You have a Telecommunications/Electronics/SW/Computer master’s degree or equivalent through experience
• PM Certification or equivalent through experience
• Very high English proficient

Others:
• Full time job
• Variety of financial and non-financial benefits
• Offered salary: from 2500 EUR (depends on experience)

DEVELOPER TEST AUTOMATION

You will be a part of the SEGRON Test Automation Development Team. This will be an amazing opportunity for someone to be part of a team working in next generation cutting edge technologies such as 5G, IOT, DevOps, CI/CD and test automation using Python, Robot.

As test automation developer, you will be responsible for understanding the different customer requirements and latest technologies around 5G, VoLTE use cases, building automation tools, framework, creating reusable python libraries for test automation.
You should have a strong knowledge and hands-on experience in test automation framework (Robot) and Python scripting language. Further you must continuously renew the automation & review guidelines set within the team. Ensure developed reusable keywords & test scripts meet the automation guideline.

Soft Skills:
Problem Solving skills:
• Analytical & technical mindset
• Good in abstraction i.e. seeing the “big picture”
• Self-Motivated & Responsible 


Team player:
• collaborates with others
• teach new skills to others and write tutorials


Others:
• Good Communication Skills
• Flexible/Entrepreneurial

Hard Skills:
• Experience in developing reusable test automation scripts using Python and Robot Framework
• Several years of experience in Telecom Domain
• Good expertise on 5G/4G/3G technologies and should be familiar with the network call flows
• Test Case development
• Mobile development
• Design Patterns
• Web development/testing
• IMS/SDM/EPC domain knowledge
• Hand-on experience in Docker containers and Kubernetes.
• Sound understanding of Telco Cloud technologies such as VNFI, Open Stack
• Sound knowledge in Linux/CentOS, TCP/IP stack
• DevOps knowledge

Nice to have skills:
• Understanding of 5G network elements and interfaces is plus
• Wireshark packet analysis
• Experience in Protocol testing including HTTP2, SIP, MAP, Diameter

Specific additional information:
• You have a Telecommunications/Electronics/SW/Computer master’s degree or equivalent through experience
• Very high English proficient

Others:
• Full time job
• Variety of financial and non-financial benefits
• Offered salary: from 2000 EUR (depends on experience)