The mobile roaming market has changed enormously since its inception – Roam like at home is one of novelties. In the early days, roaming gained adverse publicity because the use of mobile services when travelling abroad cost so much more than domestic tariffs. The somewhat unfortunate consequence of this pricing disparity is that we are now all too familiar with the term “bill shock”, because extraordinarily high bills were often the unwelcome result of mobile usage when abroad.
Changes in regulation, and actions by operators themselves, have reduced the cost of roaming over time, and indeed roaming charges were scrapped in the European Union in June 2017.
However, some users have been unable to shake off their distrust of roaming, and so-called “silent roamers” still exist. Such users generate no roaming revenue for their home MNOs. Instead, they seek alternative ways to connect their mobile devices that are cheaper or even free of charge.
Methods can include travel SIMs, local prepaid SIMs, WiFi routers, free WiFi in hotels and coffee shops, and others.
Roam like at home globally
The mobile roaming data market is set for growth in the coming years. According to a report published by Juniper Research in late-2017, operator revenues from international mobile data roaming are expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 8%, reaching $31 billion in 2022 compared to $21 billion in 2017.
This is despite a global fall in data revenues by 11% in 2017 — including a 46% decline in western Europe — as a result of operators increasingly offering ‘roam like at home’ packages around the world.
The global average roaming data usage per user per annum was also forecast to increase from around 500 MB in 2017 to almost 1.6 GB by 2022.