Operator-billed mobile roaming revenues are expected to experience a marked decline in 2017 as new EU regulations come into force, according to a new study from Juniper Research.
The annual revenues – worth an estimated $52 billion in 2017 – will fall by 7% globally, but by 28% in Europe with operators obliged to phase out any premiums currently for international calls, text and data while roaming within the EU.
However, the research observes that roaming revenues will recover in the medium term as the lower prices of calls and data within EU countries will remove the consumer barrier to using mobiles abroad, thereby resulting in a significant increase in active roamers.
The research, Mobile Roaming: Regulations, Opportunities & Emerging Sectors 2015-2020, observed that roaming tariffs outside Europe will continue to be unregulated and significantly higher.
While European operators have previously warned that domestic charges may increase as a result of this ban, it believed that operators will not increase prices outside-EU roaming charges or even domestic prices due to competition.
Research author Nitin Bhas added: ‘Instead, operators need to encourage more usage; they will need to work with content providers and aggregators even more closely now in order to provide more innovative content services to which users will attach value’.
Additionally, the research found that the reduction in retail data roaming costs in Europe means that North America and the Far East/China will account for the highest proportion of the global mobile data roaming revenue by 2017.
Other key findings:
- Despite the reduction in roaming costs in a number of markets, operators will still face a sizeable base of ‘ingrained’ silent roamers, who either switch off roaming services all together or use alternative services such as Wi-Fi or local-SIMs.
- The number of In-Flight and Maritime roamers using mobile services while on-board an aircraft or a cruise-line will continue to increase, but represent a small proportion of total mobile operator roaming revenue.
The whitepaper, The Rise & Fall of the Roaming Empire, is now available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full research.