A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that mobile data roaming revenues will grow by 21 percent between 2012 and 2017, reaching more than $35 billion in 2017, driven by an increasing number of active data roamers using data services while abroad.
The report also notes that the number of silent data roamers — those not actively using any data services — who still fear bill shock continues to be markedly higher when compared to silent voice roamers. Silent roamers exercise caution or do not use voice and data services while roaming and represent a non-user segment.
Powered by the proliferation of smartphones and a dramatic growth in data usage, data roaming is being seen as a key growth driver for operators, albeit with cost-effective packages coupled with subscriber control over usage.
The new report from Juniper, "Mobile Roaming: Challenges, Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2012-2017," was authored by Nitin Bhas, a senior analyst with Juniper. The report found that the majority of mobile customers were using voice services when roaming abroad, but this offered little opportunity to add value or enhance services. Data roaming, on the other hand, provided operators with the opportunity to convert "non-data" roamers to active data roamers through the introduction of data bundles and roaming plans.
The report also observed that as data roaming revenues grow and instant messaging apps proliferate, SMS roaming adoption and revenue growth will remain modest, relative to data and voice revenues. “As data roaming costs are further reduced and smartphone owners find so-called OTT (over-the-top) services — such as eBuddy and Whatsapp — a cheaper alternative, the average spend per SMS roaming will decline over the forecast period," said Bhas.
Among other key findings of the report were that total mobile roaming revenues are expected to exceed $80 billion by 2017, compared to more than $46 billion this year, and Western Europe will account for the highest proportion of the global mobile data roaming revenue.
Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global high tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.