Data roamers to double by 2018 -- BICS

BICS reveals roaming forecasts; data roamers to double by 2018

26 SEP 2014

LIVE FROM LTE ASIA 2014: Global roaming revenue is forecast to double in the next five years while the number of data roamers will increase twofold by 2018.

The roaming market is growing 12 per cent annually and is expected to reach $89 billion by 2018, said Mikael Schachne, VP of mobile data business management at BICS.

Europe and Asia are the key growth drivers. Data will soon account for half of roaming revenue, said Schachne, who spoke yesterday at LTE Asia in Singapore.

LTE connections account for just six per cent of roaming revenue, but with 499 operators in 143 countries investing in LTE networks, that figure will increase rapidly. He cited figures predicting that half of the world’s population will have access to LTE services by 2017.

But making data roaming with next-gen networks as ubiquitous as legacy voice roaming, he said, requires a complete change in the roaming architecture compared to 2G/3G, which is insufficient for LTE roaming since it is best-effort only.

Operators need to add Diameter signalling and set up bilateral agreements with partner operators or connect to an IPX provider. He said 120 networks in more than 60 countries have set up connections with IPX providers, noting that coverage is not yet global.

But he added that peering has taken off in 2014.

One of the main challenges is pricing, which in most cases he said is still outrageous. To address this, he said, operators are tailoring their offerings with large bundles and being more transparent on pricing so there is no fear of roaming. “This has the potential to drastically increase data roaming.”

Looking at VoLTE, he said 20 operators have launched services and are seeing the benefits as the quality of experience is much higher. Users also are able to switch from voice to video in the same session.

“Operators can count on the same IPX benefits with VoLTE and have the network interworkings and global interoperability as well as ubiquity similar to SMS and voice,” Schachne said.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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