Mobile data roaming will generate approximately US$50bn in revenues by 2019, contributing as much as 56% to global roaming revenues, according to new research by global analyst firm Ovum.
Ovum’s latest roaming forecasts show that Europe continues to be the largest contributor to global roaming revenues, accounting for 46% of global roaming revenues, with much of the revenue growth coming from the EU.
The revenue contribution from Asia is also increasing, particularly from Central and Southern Asia, which is expected to grow at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 12% over the forecast period, as one of the highest amongst all regions.
“The sheer size of the region contributes to the increase, as does the fact that mobile services will penetrate further into these markets over the forecast period, and the overall propensity to roam is set to improve gradually,” says Nishi Verma Nangia, senior analyst at Ovum.
Mobile data will experience the fastest revenue growth over the forecast period, and is expected to drive growth of roaming revenues as voice revenues begin to stagnate.
The increasing penetration of smartphones and SIM-enabled tablets, along with the deployment of LTE networks, is driving the growth of mobile data usage. Mobile users increasingly want to use the same services everywhere, whether they are at home or travelling abroad.
“To meet these expectations, operators are extending the reach of their LTE networks through agreements with operators in other markets, and in doing so are laying a solid foundation to allow travellers to maintain the same high-speed access to the internet they have while in their home markets, ” Nangia says.
The report highlights roaming growth is still impeded by the cost of roaming services and the legacy of ‘bill shock’. Telecoms regulators in some regions – especially in the EU – have been taking steps to make roaming services more affordable for consumers. In addition to regulatory developments, there have recently been commercial initiatives, as operators in some regions have launched new roaming propositions to stimulate adoption among their customer base.
“But it's not pricing alone; operators need to demonstrate the relevance of roaming service to travellers, particularly in emerging markets, to encourage roaming adoption,” Nangia concludes.