Emerging Technologies Disrupting Roaming in 2023

Retail Roaming Revenue to Exceed $19 Billion Globally by 2027

In 2020, roaming operators across the world experienced a significant decline in demand for retail roaming services, as international travel became restricted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, travel restrictions have been lifted; enabling more subscribers to travel abroad for leisure or business. Roaming revenue, however, is still to reach pre-COVID levels for operators. Juniper Research defines retail roaming as: ‘The services delivered by operators to their mobile subscribers when connecting to another network in another country, therefore roaming.’ roaming technology

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of the retail roaming market will reach $19 billion by 2027 globally; a substantial increase from $10 billion in 2022.

This growth of 98% in revenue will be driven by both an increase in the number of 5G roaming subscribers across key international travel corridors between North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, and data generated by these new 5G connections whilst roaming internationally.

The research anticipates that this increase in roaming data will be attributable to new devices, such as cellular-enabled laptops, wearables and tablets. It warns that this growth will necessitate increased operator reliance on roaming vendors to manage the ever-growing complexity of roaming ecosystems.

Retail Roaming & the Travel Mobility Market

In this section, Juniper Research evaluated services that are related to the retail roaming market; assessing their impact on operators’ abilities to garner revenue from retail roaming activities.

1. eSIMs roaming technology

Consumer devices will remain the predominant market for eSIMs (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module), with smartphones accounting for 90% of eSIMs installed in connected consumer devices by 2025, with the demand for eSIM-compatible smartphones likely to increase as the travel industry recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and international travel increases.
Travellers will benefit from eSIM connectivity; enabling them to connect to local profiles and tariffs, eliminating roaming charges. It is important to note, however, that the availability of eSIM-compatible smartphones will rely on the attitudes of handset manufacturers, such as Apple, Google, and Samsung, with Apple leading the market for eSIM-compatible smartphones. Given the oligopolistic market nature of
handsets, a failure of one of these vendors to support eSIMs to a significant degree will lead to a diminished value of eSIMs for operators and its impact on the roaming market.
The implementation of eSIM technology enables the production of smaller form factors in devices. In turn, this will reduce the cost of smartphone production which, when reflected in handset pricing, will make eSIM-compatible smartphones more accessible than smartphones with traditional SIM cards.


This primarily owes to the high penetration of iOS devices in these regions; Juniper Research has identified 10 countries in which iOS devices comprise the majority of smartphones in use; Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. This is shown in the map in the figure below.


Despite the potential for eSIM deployment, it is important to note that the technology is still in the maturity phase of development. At this stage, it is important to make sure that stakeholders are sufficiently educated, and standards are in place.
Ultimately, eSIM deployment will rely on operator support. If a transnational network operator group chooses to launch eSIM support, the uptake will be more widespread. It is important to note that some countries within network operator groups will be proactive, with other countries within the group following out of obligation.


2. Travel Mobility SIMs roaming technology

Travel mobility enables roaming subscribers to maintain connectivity when moving between different networks outside the range of their home network, without incurring excessive roaming fees. Subscribers utilise travel mobility SIMs to stay connected to family and friends when travelling abroad.

travel sim

Travel SIMs are an inexpensive and efficient alternative when subscribers roam internationally; negating the need for the adoption of roaming packages. Users without an eSIM-enabled device can purchase a physical travel SIM prior to travelling and insert it into their phones. The SIM will automatically connect to local Internet networks in visited countries. A travel SIM is a more flexible option than a local SIM for more frequent or long-term travellers, as it can be utilised across many networks around the world.
The difference between an eSIM and a physical SIM card is that an eSIM is already embedded in the device, whereas there are various different SIM cards that varying models of phones accept. If dealt with the wrong size SIM card, the user would have to contact their network to change their SIM, which is costly and time-consuming.
Additionally, the chances of the operator having a physical presence, including customer support and SIM distribution in the country being roamed within is unlikely. Therefore, to avoid user dissatisfaction when roaming, operators must support eSIMs at the earliest possible opportunity.


Operators offer travel SIMs in packages that can be prepaid for both online and in-store. If travelling to one destination, local SIM cards can be purchased in supermarkets and petrol stations in the visited country.
Network providers have to continually update their roaming agreements and services to meet the demand of consumers, as consumer expectations for faster mobile data speed are constantly increasing.
Consumer education is also key; to ensuring that as users move from home networks that have invested heavily in 5G to visit networks, they must be aware that the speeds and latency delivered on the home network are unlikely to be the same on a visited network.

3. 4G and 5G Data Roaming

Regulatory bodies, such as the GSMA and the 3GPP, are yet to outline standards for 5G roaming models. Until these standards are established, operators and service providers will continue to face uncertainty and will not be motivated to establish 5G roaming agreements. Juniper Research believes that it is important for regulators to establish a comprehensive roaming model, which carefully considers the role of operators in the chosen security framework and the provision of value-added services.
If operators are unable to manage the complexity of 5G roaming agreements on behalf of their customers, there will be a heavier reliance on value-added services to ensure an enhanced quality of service. With regards to security models, a pure TLS (Transport Layer Security) model will minimise the responsibility of operators through an encrypted connection within the home and visiting networks.
Whilst there are more technically complex solutions currently under consideration, such as the use of SEP (Signalling End Point) nodes, Juniper Research notes that only larger operator groups would have the resources to meet the requirements of 5G, and smaller operators would not be able to secure a return on investment.

When considering market standards, regulators must ensure that the decided model has terms that the majority of operators will find agreeable. If the proposed standards lack clarity, the market will experience fragmentation, with large international network carrier groups able to splinter off and align their own commercial models. Juniper Research believes that communications between all layers of the ecosystem are necessary to avoid this scenario.
Furthermore, dependent on the data package subscribers select in their country of origin and what is offered in the country of destination, subscribers will experience differing roaming speeds. If subscribers are unsatisfied with the speed of mobile data whilst abroad, they are more likely to move to a competitor operator; enhancing pressure on operators to provide fast data packages.

Emerging Categories for Roaming Devices

Juniper Research believes that the greatest source of disruption over the next five years for roaming vendors will be the increase in the number and types of devices that are roaming internationally.
Juniper Research predicts that the number of consumer devices will grow globally post-COVID, as more users work from home. Whilst smartphones dominate the consumer device industry, the sales of laptops and tablets are growing at a similar rate to smartphones. Instead, the demand for feature phones is expected to decrease. Smartwatches are continually advancing to operate more similarly to smartphones than traditional activity trackers, meaning that users have an enhanced incentive to purchase the product for more effective and portable use in everyday activities.
As the number and type of devices utilised for roaming increasingly require a cellular connection, operators must find new ways of meeting consumer demand for cellular data without enhancing the risk of bill shock for subscribers.

1 Smartphones roaming technology

Smartphones are the most ubiquitous consumer device and are predicted to be the most disruptive device for roaming vendors on a global scale, by increasing the opportunity for roaming traffic. Mobile subscribers benefit from utilising smartphones whilst travelling, particularly since the introduction of eSIMs, making roaming with smartphones cheaper and more efficient, saving subscribers large roaming costs.

2 Tablets

Tablets are a progressively utilised device, often taking the place of laptops due to their affordability and portability. Tablets are a particularly important asset for students, commuters, travellers, and professionals who travel frequently for business. Additionally, tablets are more likely to be taken abroad in more affluent areas. roaming technology

Whilst tablets with cellular connectivity can connect to the Internet almost anywhere, very few tablets offer this service and operate only when connected to Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, roaming vendors need to cater to cellular tablets to ensure there is no bill shock for travellers utilising roaming services abroad.

3 Laptops

Laptop sales have been decreasing since the introduction of tablets and smartphones, as consumers are able to carry out many computing tasks on more portable, affordable devices.
However, laptops are indispensable devices in business enterprises due to their power and storage space. Business laptops are necessary for use in productive tasks such as web marketing, online meetings, presentations and more. Many laptops now have a port for SIM cards, which provides access to cellular networks such as 5G and backup whilst on the move.
As with tablets, Juniper Research suggests roaming vendors need to ensure data explored on laptops is monitored, to avoid any bill shock for subscribers. Additionally, vendors should enable enterprises to manage multiple devices from a centralised location.

4 Smartwatches

Smartwatches have evolved to be one of the most popular and in-demand devices in the technology market; progressing from purely fitness trackers to offering smartphone-like services, such as sending and receiving texts, and calls, listening to music and enabling contactless payments. The demand for smartwatches increased during the lockdown, as people became more health concerned.
Whilst very few smartphones are cellular, many are still dependent on smartphones, as they take data from the smartphone via Bluetooth. This contributes to the overall data being produced when roaming. Therefore, operators need to take this into account when charging subscribers for data used to further prevent bill shock. roaming technology

Mobileum, Tata Communications & Syniverse Lead

The new report, Retail Roaming: Regional Analysis, Business Models & Market Forecasts 2023-2027, assessed the leading vendors that enable operators’ retail roaming activities. It evaluated these vendors on criteria including depth and breadth of roaming partnerships, service and product offerings, and solution innovation. It ranked the top 3 vendors as follows:

  1. Mobileum
  2. Tata Communications
  3. Syniverse
retail roaming
Source: Juniper Research

The research rated Mobileum as the leading roaming vendor; scoring highly on the completeness of its roaming solutions, including comprehensive services enabling both VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and 5G roaming for operators. In addition, it commended Mobileum’s overall strength in offering key value-added services over its roaming platforms, including roaming security and risk assessment solutions that protect operators’ roaming activity from fraud.

Roaming Data Services Key to Retail Roaming Growth roaming technology

The report predicts that international travel will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024. In turn, it urges roaming vendors to provide solutions that enable operators to create novel roaming services, such as real‑time self-management platforms protecting subscribers from data overuse whilst roaming. By providing these solutions, the report predicts that operators will be able to reduce the number of silent roamers and thus maximize roaming revenue from international travel. roaming technology

Stay connected

BNESIM is a global SIM card/eSIM that allows travelers to stay connected to high-speed internet and make low-cost calls in over 170 countries without the hassle of switching SIM cards or paying exorbitant roaming fees. With BNESIM, travelers can easily manage their account and data usage through a user-friendly mobile app, which also provides real-time customer support in multiple languages. BNESIM offers flexible plans and packages that cater to different needs and budgets, making it a cost-effective and convenient solution for anyone who needs reliable connectivity while on the go.





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