So where are we with LTE Roaming?
According to Ovum’s 2016 Roaming Report, LTE roaming is making its presence known, driven by data roaming traffic that is expected to grow by 44% CAGR between 2015 and 2020.
The propensity to roam increases due to reduced prices, regulation, smartphone adoption and ease of signing up for roaming services. The combination of high-speed services and price reductions have already dramatically impacted data roaming volumes. The zero roaming regulation in EU is expected to cause even greater impact. The new regulations will stimulate revenues from consumers, which are forecast to outpace those of business subscribers in 2020.
Another phenomenon, projected by many analysts as the consequence of “roam like home” regulations is the end of “silent roamers” – consumers who switch off data roaming when they travel. And, already disrupting the roaming landscape, is the proliferation of OTT services, which will also accelerate data roaming.
These trends are not happening in isolation. For example, the EU regulations are also forcing the Eurasian Economic Union and Gulf Cooperation markets to take steps to cap or eventually eliminate roaming charges.
All these regulatory actions, coupled with pricing initiatives from operators, are encouraging rapid growth in roaming usage worldwide.
The exponential growth just began
The European summer holiday season again registered record peaks in traffic volume: on the iBasis network more than two million LTE roamers used our network at the end of August, the double compared to last year.. We also observed a 5-fold increase in GRX/S8 across the network and a 133% growth in terms of number of transactions in August compared to last year. These increases of traffic volumes clearly illustrate the growing demand for LTE Roaming services worldwide.
Although we observed steady growth since the 2012 introduction of our LSX and LTE roaming offering, there has been a strong acceleration of new interconnections in 2016. During the first half of 2016, we had a 50% increase in enabling new LTE roaming service launches across EMEA, Asia and the Americas. We also added 140 active destinations since last year so we can now offer our customers more than 400 LTE destinations in more than 156 countries.
In addition to the growth driven by new regulations and lower costs, we are responding to soaring demand for roaming services in new markets like M2M and connected cars, which require a new kind of seamless connectivity across borders.
This is just an example of the strong potential and multiple opportunities for operators to monetize new LTE roaming services and find new ways to collaborate with new entrants in the market.