A new study from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) has found that operator revenues from international mobile data roaming are expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 8%, reaching $31 billion in 2022 compared to $21 billion in 2017.
This is despite a global fall in data revenues by 11% in 2017 – including a 46% decline in West Europe – as a result of operators increasingly offering RLAH (Roam Like at Home) packages around the world, according to the research group. RLAH enables users to use their monthly voice, data, and messaging allowance while roaming without incurring additional charges.
Juniper Research found that the introduction of unlimited roaming data plans in the US, Europe, and Far East will significantly drive usage by mobile roamers, leading to average data usage exceeding 1GB by the end of 2020.
“There is very limited room for improvement on voice roaming in terms of increasing the scale of revenue,” said research author Nitin Bhas. “However, with data, alongside the potential to offer customized, contextual roaming bundles and services, the cost per MB is expected to fall significantly in most regions. This will encourage ‘non-data’ roamers to become active roamers.”
Juniper forecasts that the global average roaming data usage per user per annum will increase from around 500MB in 2017 to almost 1.6GB by 2022. “Silent roamers” exercise caution, or do not use voice and data services at all while roaming, thus are a non-user segment. Juniper’s research found that this behavior continues to represent a huge challenge to operators both in terms of customer satisfaction and lost revenue.
However, the research group estimates that silent roamers, declined to 67% of mobile roamers by the end of 2016, down from 71% in 2015. Furthermore, Juniper forecasts a further decline to 53% by 2022, as operators focus more on silent roamers. This sector will continue to offer a far larger opportunity than increasing usage amongst active roamers to offset revenue losses.