The number of mobile users roaming on 5G networks is set to exceed 200 million within five years, boosted by the return of international travel and demand for a consistent data experience at home and abroad.
A study by Juniper Research suggests 5G roamers will increase from 4.5 million in 2021 to 210 million in 2026 – an increase in 5G roaming subscriptions of 4,500%.
Global 5G roaming traffic is set to increase from 2.6 petabytes (PB) to 770PB during the same period.
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The additional capacity and speeds of 5G, especially standalone 5G (SA 5G), provides operators with scope to create value-added services to support international visitors.
Analysts say this is a huge opportunity for operators who have invested in 5G networks and have suffered from massive losses in roaming income during the pandemic to generate additional sources of revenues.
They have urged operators to develop 5G specific roaming features that will support the anticipated growth in demand and expects the development of frameworks that specifically cover 5G to ensure customers have a comparable experience when travelling between countries.
A failure to do so would not only mean forfeiting these opportunities but could even result in losses.
“As demand for international travel returns, operators must adjust to the significant uptake of 5G subscriptions during the pandemic,” said research author Scarlett Woodford. “A failure to provide 5G roaming capabilities in key travel destinations will diminish brand reputation amongst subscribers and lead to churn to competitors.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.