Revenue from data roaming is forecast to rise to $31 billion globally in 2022, after an initial decline in wider roaming earnings caused by EU regulation – a policy the European Parliament aims to expand to new countries.

In a report published this week, Juniper Research predicted data roaming revenue would increase at an average annual rate of 8 per cent between 2017 and 2022.

The company said the growth would, in part, be driven by an increase in the number of consumers willing to use roaming services who previously avoided using cellular services abroad. It anticipates average data usage of 1GB per roamer by the end of 2020, compared to 500MB in 2017.

In a study earlier this year, the company forecast regulation – especially in the EU – would lead to a decline in roaming revenue from $54 billion in 2016 to $48 billion in 2017. This takes into account spending across the world on voice, messaging and data services.

EU looks east
Juniper’s report comes as the European Parliament eyes the abolition of charges for roaming services between EU countries and Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.

The recommendation is set to be discussed at a November meeting about the Eastern Partnership – a scheme designed to enhance relationships between EU member states and countries directly to the east of the economic bloc.

In a draft proposal published in August, the European Parliament outlined its suggestion for the “abolition of roaming tariffs between the partners and the EU and the development of high-capacity broadband”, in addition to a wide range of other measures.

Roaming revenues are under pressure in Europe as operators continue to feel the impact of EU regulation finally introduced in June after years of legal wrangling. Since the measures took effect, operators across the continent have warned the policy would negatively impact earnings in forthcoming financial statements.