The number of roaming subscribers will reach 1.1 billion by 2024 against 900 million in 2020 – growing at 28 percent over the next four years, according to Juniper Research.
There are around 5.9 billion subscribers globally compared to 8 billion subscriptions. Global mobile subscription penetration is at 104 percent in the third quarter of 2019, says Ericsson Mobility report.
The report from Juniper Research said wholesale roaming model will be crucial to mitigating threats from data traffic generated by emerging technologies, such as 5G and RCS (Rich Communication Services). Wholesale roaming involves mobile operators agreeing bilateral agreements that secure the use of each other’s networks for subscribers.
These agreements include pre-agreed costs and fair usage of voice, SMS and data services whilst roaming. Existing wholesale roaming agreements will need to be amended in order to accommodate large amounts of data traffic generated by 5G connections.
According to Ericsson Mobility report, 5G will have 2.6 billion subscriptions covering up to 65 percent of the world’s population and generating 45 percent of the world’s total mobile data traffic by 2025.
Operators should focus on ensuring that fair usage policies reflect the anticipated increase in cellular traffic, or risk a low quality of user experience on visited networks for mobile subscribers.
RCS is anticipated to place added pressure on operators that offer roaming services. Juniper Research author Sam Barker said: “There will be over 270 million RCS messaging users in 2020. Wholesale roaming agreements must be expanded to include RCS or operators risk losing traffic to OTT messaging applications.”
Operators will increase adoption of the wholesale roaming model due to its ability to rapidly update usage policies and roaming. 20 percent of mobile roaming connections will be attributable to 5G-capable smartphones by 2024. Wholesale roaming revenue, including voice, messaging and data roaming will reach $41 billion by 2024 against $37 billion in 2019.