Asia-Pacific leading boom in LTE roaming, says BICS at MWC Shanghai

28 June 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

LTE roaming in the Asia-Pacific region is booming, according to the latest figures from BICS.

The region saw a three-fold increase in LTE roaming traffic in 2017, well above the global average, which showed a doubling of LTE roaming traffic.

And at the beginning of 2018 Europe overtook the Middle East to become the top destination for outgoing roamers from Asia-Pacific using LTE services, says BICS, accounting for around 54% of outbound LTE roaming traffic.

BICS’s managing director for Asia-Pacific, Malcolm Chan, said: "Subscribers now expect high quality, affordable roaming services, whether they’re travelling inside or outside of Europe. With Europe accounting for such a significant portion of Asia’s roaming traffic, overtaking the Middle East, it’s clear that the impact of the legislation is being felt on a global scale."

European LTE roaming itself is growing even faster, say the figures from the Brussels-based company. In January, BICS reported that global LTE roaming traffic more than doubled in 2017, with Europe experiencing a 600-800% increase in traffic during the summer months. The surge in LTE roaming traffic in Europe was driven in part by the EU’s regulation on wholesale roaming charges which came into effect in June 2017.

"The Roam Like At Home ruling in Europe led to greater awareness of the benefits international roaming brings," said Chan. As a result, tourists and business travellers visiting Asia from Europe accounted for the highest number of inbound roamers (57%).

China, with 1 billion 4G connections and accounting for 40.2% of all global LTE connections, spearheads Asian growth, said BICS, but other markets such as Australia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and India are also seeing accelerating migration to 4G.

The GSMA, which this week was holding its Asian version of Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, estimates that mobile data growth will be the driving force behind future revenues and operator investment in the region.

"Contrary to established belief, Asian consumers no longer want to switch off their phones or buy local SIM cards when travelling overseas," said Chan.

"We anticipate further growth as the number of connected devices surges throughout the region. BICS will continue to reinforce its backbone of connectivity by cementing and expanding our global footprint and supporting operators as they identify new and innovative ways to monetise services and improve their customer offering."



Topics: LTE, 4G, roaming, BICS, EU, roam like at home, Mobile World Congress