Telco revenues from roaming expected to decline by 11% in 2017 – report

A new study from Juniper Research has found that operator revenues from international mobile roaming are expected to experience an 11% decline in 2017, as operators introduce ‘Roam Like at Home’ packages in key markets including Europe, North America and Asia.

‘Roam Like at Home’ enables mobile users to use their monthly voice, data, and messaging allowance while roaming without incurring additional charges.

The new research, Mobile Roaming: Regulations, Opportunities & Emerging Sectors 2017-2022, forecasts that the annual revenues, worth an estimated US $54 billion in 2016, will decline to US $48 billion in 2017 as revenues generated from increased usage in many markets fail to offset those lost by lower roaming charges in the EU.

There is increasing competition amongst operators to offer innovative tariffs to roaming users. Strict regulations in some parts of the world mean that MNOs have an ever greater need to revisit their strategies to protect the value of roaming. In fact Juniper estimates that roaming revenues will decline by 11% in 2017, due to the impact of the abolition of roaming charges in EU countries.

This infographic shows a snapshot of the mobile roaming operator revenue market share in 2017 & 2022.

Research author Nitin Bhas added: “This decline in global revenues is due to a 33% fall in European roaming revenues, following the EU regulation to end roaming surcharges. While we expect roaming tariffs outside Europe to continue to be unregulated and to be significantly higher, operator focus will need to shift to innovative bundles and tailored pricing to preserve or grow revenues from travellers and immigrant workers.”

The research found that revenues will begin to recover in 2018, following a significant increase in active roamers and data usage.

Brexit Scenario: Will Operators Resist Price Increases?

Following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, it is possible that UK operators may try to make up for the loss by increasing domestic prices, especially since their margins have been falling at the rate of 1-2% per annum over the last 5 years. Alternatively, these operators could adopt Rest of the Worldtariffs for mobile roamers in the UK.

Under such a scenario, the average roaming spend per active mobile roamer would double by the end of 2022 due to higher costs, reaching $150 per annum, compared to our current estimates of $75. The research argued that while this is a possibility, it is highly unlikely given historical customer backlash to such events and further regulatory interventions.