This 1,140% growth will be driven by the termination of 3G networks; necessitating the adoption of low-power cellular networks. The research found that low-power wide-area networks provide a low-cost alternative to established operator-led cellular networks, such as 4G and 5G; driving the growth of IoT roaming connections through low-power, high-penetration coverage.
Roaming IoT connections use wireless services outside of their registered operator’s network; accessing connectivity from other cellular providers.
US Offers Key IoT Roaming Growth Opportunities
The report found that roaming IoT connections from the US will generate 277 petabytes of data by 2027; accounting for 26% of the global total. With AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon terminating 3G networks during 2022, it anticipated that roaming IoT connections will be redistributed to low-power wide-area 4G or 5G networks depending on the use case.Research author Scarlett Woodford remarked: “US operators must adopt the Billing & Charging Evolution protocol to accurately identify IoT traffic based on network technologies. Failure to do so will risk revenue leakage, if lucrative 5G roaming IoT traffic is misidentified as lower-value connectivity.”
6 leading IoT roaming vendors
Juniper Research’s Competitor Leaderboard tool assesses each vendor against a set of key indicators to derive their relative positioning in the matrix. These include a vendor’s capacity and capability, their product positioning, size of their operations, financial performance and the sophistication of their IoT roaming solution.
The Competitor Leaderboard ranked the six leading IoT roaming vendors as follows:
1. Vodafone Business
2. Tata Communications
Vodafone Business has built a scalable IoT product offering; supporting device management, LPWA (Low Power Wide Access) network services and mobile private networks. Juniper Research commended Vodafone for its ‘Application-as-a-Service’ model which will drive IoT roaming service adoption amongst SMEs by lowering the barriers to entry.
Harnessing AI to detect permanent roaming connections is key to distinguishing the services of leading vendors from their competitors. By enabling the accurate identification of permanent roaming IoT connections, vendors will support operators in the monetisation of these devices. Operators must move away from the use of punitive measures and adopt a monetisation mindset; drawing parallels with grey
route mobile messaging traffic reduction.
Monetising IoT Roaming Traffic
Operators can face significant challenges when attempting to monetise different types of network connectivity. Juniper Research notes that it is currently difficult for operators to test, and subsequently launch, NB-IoT roaming agreements. This is because such an agreement would require both compatible devices and compatible billing procedures to be in place.
Whilst the GSMA and other suppliers are promoting the BCE, this procedure is still not widely implemented within the roaming industry. The initial reason given for the lack of BCE implementation was the COVID-19 pandemic, with operators seeking to secure their core operations rather than investing in innovation. However, as international travel begins its recovery from the pandemic, and roaming traffic
increases, Juniper Research anticipates that operator uptake of the BCE protocol will grow drastically over the next five years.
A billing system is crucial for distinguishing technologies, such as NB-IoT; enabling operators to differentiate between IoT traffic and consumer network traffic. Juniper Research anticipates that the growth of 5G connectivity will incentivise operators to invest in BCE, with the technology introducing slicing options that must be incorporated into any emerging charging models for IoT use cases.
5G Connectivity Restricted to High-value IoT Roaming Use Cases
The research noted that only 2% of total IoT roaming connections will rely on 5G networks by 2027, due to the low-power consumption and infrequent data transmission exhibited by the majority of devices. It found that only use cases dependent on low-latency and high-speed data downloads, such as autonomous vehicles and connected factories, will justify enterprise investment in 5G connectivity.