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Comfone: 25 years as pioneers

2022 is important for Comfone: we are celebrating our 25th year in business!

 

When we look back on the past 25 years, we have seen industry changes, weathered global recessions, pandemics and seismic changes to the telecommunications industry.

 

We are proud to be seen as industry pioneers, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and working together with GSMA since 1997 to help shape the industry. Everything that we do, we do with our customers in mind, constantly striving to adapt, change and innovate to continue providing the best possible services, whilst maintaining our commitment to great customer care.

 

Our official birthday is not until September, so in this blog we will be looking back over our 25 years in the roaming industry, showcasing some of our game changing services, apps and products and sharing some insights for the future.

Back to the beginning

Comfone was founded in 1997, as the result of a joint venture between Swisscom and Vodafone… making Comfone!

 

Walter Heutschi, Géraldine Philippe and Toni Stadelmann each played key roles in the development and evolution of roaming to what we know it as today. From helping GSMA to create documentation about roaming services to providing the first basis for roaming hubs, we are honoured to have them as our founders.

First services launched

Financial Clearing and Data Clearing were the first services to be launched by Comfone, back in 1997.

 

Mauro Mele, who still works at Comfone today, was instrumental in this launch. Over the years, Mauro has worked closely with the GSMA on many of the industry’s biggest changes, from the TADIG Testing Toolkit through to the Billing and Charging Evolution.

 

In 1997 we also pioneered the first international Signalling and Roaming Hub – GCS. This was the first time that anyone in the industry had seen anything like it, and it came about thanks to a GSM MoU Plenary meeting in Fiji, where without Comfone’s connections to Fiji’s networks, nobody at the event would have been able to roam. The offering expanded to include India, and then many other operators joined, including whole operator groups. GCS was the first and only roaming hub of its kind at the time, making really pioneering steps for the roaming industry.

Signalling offered over the internet

When we talk about game changers, we cannot fail to mention our work in the signalling world. Before IPX or GRX, Comfone was offering signalling access over the internet, which allowed new operators to gain access to the market at a time when regular routes to signalling were prohibitively expensive. We stayed true to our mission of providing borderless and easy communications to all people and all things despite geographical, technical and economic challenges.

Key2roam Hub: innovation of the highest level

Comfone launched the Key2roam Hub in 2004. Following in the footsteps of the GCS, this completely revolutionised the roaming industry, providing easy global connectivity for mobile operators and facilitating new players’ entry into the roaming world.

 

With one single roaming agreement for many roaming relations, and a single point of contact to deal with, roaming managers are free to focus on their key destinations.

 

To cater for the needs of new entrants, we also began offering Sponsored Roaming solutions and integrations to provide day-1 roaming coverage.

 

Comfone remains passionate about making connections, and providing borderless and easy communications to all people and all things. We continue doing this in the industry today, connecting IoTs and M2M devices to the Key2roam Hub which is 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, NB-IoT, VoLTE, CAMEL and LTE-M compliant.

New industry event

Comfone’s first ConneXion event took place in 2011, hosting around 50 participants. What began life as a small, informal gathering of people grew over the years to a large scale international event.

 

These days, attendees can network with over 300 participants from all over the world, gathered at our Bern HQ for academy training on Comfone’s latest services, products and apps, sessions from industry experts about the future of roaming and sessions from Comfone partners who provide Value Added Services hosted on the Key2roam Platform.

A simple solution to a complex situation

In 2012, Pulse was launched. This online business portal allows our customers to access all Comfone services and apps in one place.

 

A gamechanger in the industry, Pulse is a one stop shop for alarming, monitoring and reporting on your services.

 

Our rich selection of VAS apps and services delivered by Comfone’s Partners can also be found on Pulse. These provide a full complement of important services to enrich your roaming business.

 

At Comfone, we have always prided ourselves on our quality, precision and transparency, and we consider Pulse to be a culmination of these things. Our customers and colleagues have the same transparent view of the services, and Comfone staff are always on hand to assist our customers however possible.

Big Data, big ideas

In 2017, Comfone launched the Data Management Service, DMS. All about Big Data, this service revolutionised roaming for operators and other industry players. It brings visibility and transparency into the roaming sector by leveraging the intelligence carried by all roaming services flows to help you monetise your roaming services effectively.

 

DMS makes it easy for you to unmute Silent Roamers, monitor Permanent Roamers, unveil Sponsored Roaming subscribers, and monetise through segmentation, to name just a few of the scenarios on offer.

A Financial Clearing feature as easy as eBanking

In 2018, we launched ePayments, offering real-time handling of Financial Clearing payments. This ground-breaking product was designed with our customers in mind and developed to be as simple as online banking applications. It provides our customers with full control on payments to their partners, in a convenient, quick and accurate way.

Comfone leads a roaming (r)evolution

Comfone continues to contribute to the evolution of the roaming industry by actively participating in the design of the BCE (Billing and Charging Evolution) standards at GSMA level. These activities, combined with agile development techniques, allowed Comfone to support live BCE trials in 2020 and develop a bright new BCE based service: Phoenix.

 

It fully supports BCE standard processes as defined by GSMA, qualifying Comfone as a BCE Provider.

Opportunity to outsource roaming management without compromising resources

In 2021, we launched Roaming Relations Management, the service powered by the Key2roam Hub allowing MNOs and MVNOs to expand their coverage and outsource their roaming management without compromising resources.

 

Operators can utilise Comfone’s wealth of experience and good relationships maintained over 20 years in the industry to establish and manage direct roaming connections, providing access to an unparalleled number of operators around the world as a complement to the Key2roam Hub service.

The rise of the machines

As the saying goes, you cannot halt progress and at Comfone we are constantly looking for future trends and advancements, to ensure that you continue to get state-of-the-art services for your roaming business.

 

We know that the number of roaming M2M devices is growing exponentially, and thanks to our M2M End2End Monetisation Service, launched in 2021, we help you to visualise, analyse and monetise the M2M traffic in your network.

Looking to the future

We are always working towards the future and have a number of exciting projects ongoing to ensure that we offer our customers cutting-edge services and products. The innovation cycle never ends, and we look forward to another 25 years or more of providing fantastic connectivity services to our customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hattie Boggis

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