More than 140 countries now offer LTE roaming services, allowing subscribers to take advantage of high quality data services as they travel, according to annual research by BICS, a global wholesale carrier for voice, mobile data and capacity services. The number of operators offering these services has also seen dramatic growth, increasing by over 150% in the same period.
The research found that a total of 400 operators around the world can now offer their subscribers LTE roaming sessions, across 143 countries worldwide, compared with just 75 in 2014. The number of operators using BICS’ IP exchange (IPX) platform has also grown, with data traffic volumes increasing by 115% year-on-year.
Adoption outside Europe is also increasing, with carriers in a number of new regions of Africa, Asia and South America now offering the service. LTE roaming allows subscribers to take advantage of high quality data services as they travel across borders and regions. Carriers can offer these services to both their own customers and inbound visitors roaming on their networks, improving the quality of experience for both domestic and visiting end users, helping to drive revenues.
In June this year, the EU’s ban on wholesale roaming charges will come into effect, meaning subscribers will no longer have to pay extra to use data on their phone whilst abroad. This should help boost user numbers and increase demand for the service, fuelling further adoption of LTE roaming services by operators.
“The huge increase in availability of LTE roaming services comes as no surprise,” said Mikaël Schachne, VP Mobility Solutions, BICS. “Mobile users expect to be able to browse the internet, stream TV shows or make use of smart IoT devices, on the go, wherever they are. Importantly, users want to be able to do this quickly and at low, or with no additional cost. The EU regulations coming into force this summer and growth areas emerging in Africa and Asia mean that LTE roaming is truly going global.”
BICS’ IPX platform, including LTE signalling, allows service providers to exchange any IP traffic bilaterally with any IPX destination, through a single interconnection which manages service quality. This removes the need to engage in separate agreements with the hundreds of operators around the world, and allows for the swift deployment of LTE roaming services.
Mikaël Schachne added, “The globalisation of LTE roaming will also be driven by the popularity of IoT smart devices. A number of LTE narrowband technologies will likely provide connectivity for the IoT, so more carriers will need to provide the service in order to help improve the customer experience and ready their business for the future.”