Mobile roaming subscribers and revenue face three-year recovery

Friday, 29 January, 2021

Mobile roaming subscribers and revenue face three-year recovery

Travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic caused international roaming subscribers to drop by 73% to 243 million globally in 2020. A study from Juniper Research predicts that mobile roaming subscriber numbers will take until 2024 to exceed 2019 levels, reaching 918 million by 2024, as the travel industry experiences a prolonged recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

The research predicts that operators in North America will be amongst the first to recover from the impacts of the pandemic on the roaming market, accounting for 23% of global roaming revenue by 2025.

The study also forecasts that North America’s recovery will be aided by the region’s early adoption of 5G services, with operators able to increase roaming revenue through the provision of advanced functionality to subscribers. The study encourages operators to expand 5G roaming agreements in 2021 to capitalise on this revenue growth in the future.

The UK is predicted to account for 11% of mobile roaming subscribers in Europe by 2025, increasing from 8% in 2020, indicating that the revenue opportunity for operators is growing. The study also found that UK-based operators are facing pressure to form individual bilateral agreements with operators in Europe, to guarantee continued inclusive roaming for UK subscribers.

“Any decisions by UK operators to reintroduce roaming charges would negatively affect customer satisfaction. Operators must approach changes to their roaming policies with caution, in order to avoid an increase in the number of silent roamers and accompanying lost revenue,” said Scarlett Woodford, research author.

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