International roaming subscribers dip 73% to 243 mn

The number of international roaming subscribers dropped by 73 percent to 243 million globally in 2020 due to travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
International roamingMobile roaming subscriber numbers will be reaching 918 million by 2024, as the travel industry embarks on a prolonged recovery from the long-term impacts of the pandemic, according to a report.

Operators in North America will be amongst the first to recover from the impacts of the pandemic on the roaming market. The North America region will account for 23 percent of global roaming revenue by 2025, as border restrictions are lifted and demand for travel returns to normal levels.

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 research from Juniper Research urges operators to focus on expanding 5G roaming agreements in 2021 to capitalise on this revenue growth in the future.

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

Research author Scarlett Woodford noted: “Any decisions by UK operators to reintroduce roaming changes 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.”