Data Roaming vs Cellular Data
Cellular data is the ability to use data services via cellular networks, whereas Data roaming is the ability to use such service while roaming outside the geographical coverage area of the service provider. Data roaming is dependent on the agreements between service providers and GRX (GPRS Roaming Exchange) hubs which lead to number of complexities technically, as well as, contractually.
Data Roaming is the ability of customers to use data services outside of the home network of the service provider. In data roaming, users can connect to foreign mobile service provider’s network if home network coverage is not available and use the data services. Use of foreign service provider’s network depends on the agreements between mobile service providers. For an example, data roaming is where a user in Australia can go to England and use the same SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) that was used in home country to access data services while in England. Users can access data roaming service using different devices such as mobile phones, laptops (via modems), tablets etc., which support use of a SIM. In data roaming, as per the agreements between service providers, SGSNs (Serving GPRS Support Node) are provisioned to forward the foreign IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) range’s location update requests to GRX. GRX providers find the home network of the IMSI and forward to home HLR (Home Location Register) and send back the response with subscriber access profile to foreign HLR. After successful location update, users can use the data roaming within the foreign network. Data traffic of roaming users are forwarded directly to home SGSN via the foreign SGSN as per the 3GPP architecture from where they connect to the internet.
Cellular data is the ability of cellular networks to facilitate the data services to the end user. Cellular data concept was standardized with the initiation of GSM. Because, as per the GSM standard the ability to provide cellular data is an essential requirement which falls under bearer services. GSM bearer services offer synchronous or asynchronous data transport capabilities with circuit switched or packet switched data rates of 300 to 9600bps. Currently mobile networks support up to multiple hundreds of Mbps data speeds with 4G technologies due to the huge demand for data via mobile devices. Almost all of the new mobile devices have optimized to use data services via cellular networks. Evolution of mobile networks (Eg. 4G) shows that initial circuit switched voice is also converted into packet switched voice services, which leads to basic function of mobile networks to provide the cellular data services to end users.
What is the difference between Data Roaming and Cellular Data?
Use of cellular data services is increasingly popular due to available high speeds and due to mobility nature. All of the new 3GPP architectures are evolving to cater this market demand, while facilitating the data roaming where users can use data services outside the home network. Presently cellular data is an essential item to the users whether they have home network coverage or not. This is where data roaming facility comes into play. Currently data roaming charges are considerably high when compared with cellular data packages in the home country because of available complexities between integration of the networks, and due to contractual complications. Since cellular data is increasingly popular in the world, charging plans are also becoming complex. Unlike in the 2G and early 3G age, cellular data charging based on the service layers are becoming increasingly essential at present using the features like Deep Packet Inspection(DPI). This complexity is not available with Data Roaming charges because of the minimum popularity when compared with cellular data.
In the general sense, data roaming is a subset of cellular data, which is an essential item as per the current life style of people all over the world. Latest mobile technologies are evolving to cater higher data rates to end users, where cellular data is becoming the core business for mobile service providers.