LTE Roaming Traffic surpassed non-LTE global data roaming traffic

Eight-year timeline for global LTE roaming proliferation demands that the mobile industry prepare to seize 5G opportunity

New data released today by Syniverse shows that LTE usage has finally turned the corner and that inter-regional LTE data roaming traffic has surpassed non-LTE data roaming traffic. Specifically, LTE traffic rose to 54 percent of global outbound roaming traffic in 2017, up from 42 percent in 2016.

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The new figures come from a Syniverse study that analyzed global roaming traffic records from its global IPX network that connects nearly 1,000 mobile operators, including most of the world’s LTE providers. The six regions studied show that LTE roaming volume grew 121 percent overall in 2017, but they also illustrate that the majority of LTE roaming is still concentrated in the Americas, which represents 79 percent of the total global volume.

“Syniverse’s data shows that, eight years after its first commercial launch, LTE is only now a truly mature global technology,” said John Wick, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider Group, Syniverse. “The data underscores the need for the industry to more urgently prepare for 5G and the internet of things (IoT). If the 5G use cases exciting the industry are to become a reality and ubiquitously adopted, steps need to be taken soon to strengthen and evolve the entire framework of interconnection, interoperability, security and roaming that many of these new 5G services would rely on. These considerations have delivered the foundation for previous technology generations and will be more important than ever for 5G to succeed.”

The majority of LTE roaming remains concentrated in the Americas, which represent 79% of total volume

LTE roaming volumes for other regions include Europe at 11%, Asia Pacific at 7%, the Middle East and Africa at 3%, and India at 1%.

The Syniverse study found that a major barrier to providing a consistent LTE service footprint beyond home markets lies in secure inter-regional connectivity for devices and networks to communicate with each other. To this end, the data highlights the need for operators to deploy an IPX network to provide the critical interconnectivity necessary to not only enable global LTE reach but also provide the initial thrust for 5G to build upon.

The value of 5G for operators lies in its ability to integrate and capture opportunity from new vertical markets and services, including IoT, while also providing more rich user experiences. Many of these services will need security, interconnection, roaming, and interoperability, as well as a wide range of service-level agreements.

IPX infrastructure has contributed immensely to the proliferation of LTE roaming. By extension, as LTE-5G coexistence scenarios become standardized and expected to be the norm to deliver capacity and coverage, IPX will serve as the foundation for global 5G connectivity for billions of “things.”

“Our data points to the fact that while the rollout of LTE networks is advancing at a healthy rate, the mobile industry must accelerate its efforts to fully capture the 5G opportunity,” said Wick. “Industry attention has been focused on the most innovative technologies of 5G. However, just as crucial for 5G adoption is integrating technologies like IPX to ensure global connectivity and security, which have been important pillars in the success of the mobile industry.”

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