Feature Article

November 21, 2012

Mobile Data Roamers Will Generate Over $35 Billion in Revenue by 2017

Juniper Research issued a new report today - Mobile Roaming: Challenges, Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2012-2017 – in which the company forecasts that mobile data roaming revenue will grow a significant 21 percent per year over the next five years, with the market hitting $35 billion in 2017. That revenue will be driven almost exclusively by an increasing number of data roamers who are not shy about using data services while traveling abroad.

The figure below shows what Juniper means by mobile roaming:

The report also finds that the majority of mobile customers use voice services when roaming abroad, but that voice simply fails to offer the network operators any real opportunity to add value or enhance services that can generate new and additional revenue. There is, of course, nothing new in this observation – it has been the case for a number of years now. The report also observes – or rather we should say “confirms”- that data roaming provides operators with the opportunity to convert non-data roamers into active data roamers by the introduction of new and possibly unique data bundles and roaming plans.

Powered by the proliferation in smartphones and a dramatic growth in data usage, data roaming is now viewed as critical to driving growth to wireless carriers. The packages will need to be perceivably cost-effective from the mobile user’s perspective and must be coupled with “subscriber control over usage” functionality to be successful.

The report does take into consideration that the number of “silent” data roamers – that is, those that do not actively use any data services - that still fear bill shock is substantial. Clearly, removing that bill shock component from any data plan is key to converting these folks into active data users. So is establishing trust in the mobile user that there is indeed a strong measure of control at their disposal.

SMS Roaming Revenue will Remain a Modest Revenue Contributor

The new report also observes that as data roaming revenue grows, and instant messaging apps proliferate, SMS roaming adoption and revenue growth will remain modest, relative to data and voice revenue. The entire value chain for mobile roaming is shown below:

Other findings in the report include that total mobile roaming revenue that will be extracted by the mobile value chain shown above will likely exceed $80 billion by 2017, compared to over $46 billion this year. Finally, Juniper expects that Western Europe will account for the highest proportion of global mobile data roaming revenue.

For additional details do scope out Juniper’s The Rise of the Roaming Empire whitepaper.

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