Mobile data roaming will generate about US$50 billion in revenue by 2019, contributing as much as 56 percent to global roaming revenues, according to Ovum.
The revenue contribution from Asia is increasing, particularly from Central and Southern Asia, which is expected to grow at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent over the forecast period, as one of the highest among 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,” said Nishi Verma Nangia, Senior Analyst of 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 traveling 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,” said Nangia.
Indeed, the report highlights that 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 travelers, particularly in emerging markets, to encourage roaming adoption,” said Nangia.