Extend your network with a click: An intro to internal roaming

Imagine you can grow your charging sessions and offer more value to your existing customers. “Internal roaming” lets you partner with charge point operators (CPOs) and e-mobility service providers (EMPs) without any third parties, complex contracts, and integrations. Our customers and partners can tap into it through the Plugsurfing Power Platform.

Our Customer Success team has been working with our partners to build and grow these connections within our ecosystem. We sat down with Axel Pettersson, the Head of Customer Success Management. He explained how internal roaming works and how it can benefit our partners and end users alike.

What exactly is internal roaming? How does it benefit our partners and the drivers?

In internal roaming, charge point operators and e-mobility providers share the chargers and let each other’s drivers use their charging network. Our partners can do this directly on the Plugsurfing Power Platform and there’s no need for additional integrations.

Enabling internal roaming benefits everyone. Our partners get more charging sessions and exposure when they let more people use their network. In turn, the drivers of our partners have more places to charge their vehicles while using the apps developed for our partners by Plugsurfing.

“In addition to sharing the chargers, our partners have also benefited from each other’s industry knowledge and experience.”

Can you tell us about some customer examples of where this has been successful?

When our partners in the UK were starting out a few years ago, most of them could only offer a limited number of chargers to their registered users through their white-label app. We suggested they set up internal roaming with our other UK-based operators. This helped them quickly expand the number of chargers available on their app and attract more users to their networks.

It was a win-win situation: the charge point operators boosted their customer base, and the e-mobility providers could offer a larger number of chargers to their customers. This also helped them attract more end users to register in the app.

In the UK, internal roaming became hugely popular amongst our partners. The Plugsurfing team also helped boost the “UK Alliance” by organizing UK-specific events and meetings. In addition to sharing the chargers, our partners have benefited from each other’s industry knowledge and experience.

This same approach has also been widely used in the Nordics. Our customers from Norway, Sweden and Finland roam internally and cooperate. This helps them increase their customer base and offer an extended charging network on their white-label apps.

What are the benefits of internal roaming connections compared to traditional roaming?

Internal roaming means a quicker time to market. It’s also free to use for all our Plugsurfing Power Platform partners. Unlike traditional roaming agreements, there are no extra fees or overhead costs in internal roaming.

Partners using internal roaming can choose how to split the revenue from the charging sessions allowing either the EMP or the owner of the asset (CPO) to collect the revenues. However, all parties have access to the same financial reports, so it’s easy for the companies to invoice each other within our system.

“Internal and external roaming work well hand in hand: choosing one option doesn’t mean excluding the other.”

Can internal and external roaming complement each other?

Of course, all our partners can up their networks to our larger, traditional roaming networks. They can enable roaming on external networks through our Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) connections, or aggregators such as Hubject and Gireve. This gives our customers access to even more end users.

Internal and external roaming work well hand in hand: choosing one option doesn’t mean excluding the other. Especially our larger CPOs are constantly partnering up with new external EMPs. The Plugsurfing integrations team is handling multiple new OCPI integrations as we speak.

In practice, how can our partners enable internal roaming?

We have developed a feature called the Roaming Marketplace, where we connect CPOs and EMPs with each other. Today, it’s still an admin feature that needs to be enabled by a Plugsurfing system administrator. However, our vision is to scale this feature and make it directly available to our customers. In the future, our partners can use the Roaming Marketplace to choose which parties they would like to sign agreements with and connect to.

Our Customer Success team promotes internal roaming by explaining the logic to our customers. Upon request, our team can open up dialogue between our partners. They can then agree on the terms and conditions of the roaming, including how to collect and split the revenues. For example, if the EMP collects the payment from the end user, the CPO can set their price towards that specific EMP. In turn, the EMP can choose what price to charge the end user, thus ensuring both parties get their fair share.

Once we get the green light from the partners, we turn on the connection between the parties in the Plugsurfing Power Platform.

“Since most of our customers are both CPOs and EMPs, they all benefit in the same way from extended usage of the chargers.”

In the end, who “owns” the driver?

It’s always the EMP who owns the driver relationship. However, the roaming partners need to decide who collects the revenue from the end user. It could either be the CPO that owns the charging infrastructure, or the EMP that manages the driver relationship.

Especially our smaller CPO & EMP partners usually prefer the model where the CPO receives the payment from the driver. This saves them the time and effort needed in reconciling the charging sessions and handling individual payments.

Since most of our customers are both CPOs and EMPs, they all benefit in the same way from extended usage of the chargers. Even if the EMP doesn’t make money on the internal roaming sessions on chargers belonging to another CPO, they still benefit from receiving more charging sessions on their own chargers, as well as being able to attract more drivers to their app.

What’s the long-term vision for internal roaming at Plugsurfing?

Plugsurfing is the platform that connects the supply of charge points with the demand from drivers.

On the supply side, we are constantly growing the number of internal chargers that are operated on our network. On the demand side, the number of registered Plugsurfing users is on the rise, thanks to our partnerships with OEMs such as Nissan, Renault, NIO, Xpeng, and Jaguar Land Rover.

This ensures that the chargers on our network are accessible to as many EV drivers as possible. The number of charge points, as well as EV drivers, is rapidly increasing, and we want to ensure that the charging experience remains smooth, easy, and enjoyable. Internal roaming is a part of our larger effort to create a carefree public charging experience through great software.