More than 140 countries now offer LTE roaming services, with the number of operators offering such services increasing by over 150% in the past 12 months, according to new annual research from wholesaler and IPX platform provider BICS.
The new report says 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’ IPX platform has also grown, with data traffic volumes increasing by 115% year-on-year.
Adoption outside Europe is also increasing, with carriers in several new regions of Africa, Asia and South America now offering the service.
Meanwhile, the EU’s ban on wholesale roaming charges is scheduled to take effect in June this year, meaning subscribers in the EU 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, said Mikaël Schachne, VP of mobility solutions at BICS.
“The huge increase in availability of LTE roaming services comes as no surprise,” said Schachne. “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 is taking at least a little credit for this, stating that its IPX hub enables LTE roaming across nearly 75% of the globe.
Schachne added that globalization 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.”