Operators stand to lose $25bn in roaming revenues

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Travel disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak will cost the global mobile industry up to $25 billion in lost roaming revenues, Juniper Research has claimed.

Analysts say in the worst case scenario, in which international travel is restricted for up to nine months, up to 650 million trips would be cancelled. This accounts for four in five international journeys.

Exacerbating the potential losses is the fact that disruption is likely to occur during the peak travel months of June, July, and August. The losses in these three months alone could be as high as $12 billion.

Roaming revenues 

Obviously, the potential losses will be lower if the impact on travel is lower, and it should be acknowledged that roaming only accounts for six per cent of all operator revenues worldwide. However there are no mitigation strategies available, meaning telcos will just have to take the hit.

“Given the nature of the international travel industry, the research anticipated there will be no strategies available to operators to mitigate this loss,” said analysts. “It forecast that services, such as virtual conferencing, will offer businesses an alternative to international travel, but will offer no benefit to operators.

“Additionally, the research highlighted that travel cancelled due to the spread of Coronavirus is unlikely to be rebooked. As a result, this loss of roaming revenue is unlikely to be recovered once the international travel industry resumes normal service.”

Communications networks have been subject to additional demand in recent weeks, with more people working from home and accessing entertainment services. However most networks are coping with the additional strain, while many operators are zero-rating access to essential services and increasing data allowances.

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.