Many network operators are using some form of steered roaming, i.e. the mobile is actively discouraged to use a network it tries to attach to so it searches for another one that is potentially more attractive to the home operator of a customer. From a usability point of view this has one major downside which is the longer initial waiting time if the mobile is steered away from a network. But recently I have found at least one advantage: Every now and then, I use Vodafone Websessions for Internet connectivity when roaming which is usually only available in one of the networks in a foreign country while the voice service is available in several. So with steered roaming, the home network operator can increase the chances the 3G stick ends up in the right network without my help.
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Nowadays, more and more operators propose special roaming offers depending on visited networks. For example in Asia, unlimited data rates in roaming become common for users who stay on the partner’s networks (e.g. within Connexus or Bridge alliance).
In light of this trend, steering of roaming now brings more tangible benefits to end users than in the past.
The latest techniques for steering are user-friendly. There are based on a combination of SS7 and SIM/ OTA technology rather than sole SS7 network rejection.
See for example what my company is doing (sorry for the short advertisement):
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