Mobile telcos ‘face losing over $25bn in roaming revenue’

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Travel bans because of coronavirus will cost the mobile phone industry US$25 billion between now and the end of 2020, according to new analysis.

And operators do not have any real strategy to mitigate the risk, says Juniper Research, which has carried out the study.

“Revenues lost through the travel ban will not be recoverable and these must be considered lost revenues,” said Sam Barker, head of forecasting at the company.

According to Statista, the mobile industry’s revenues are expected to be $1.07 trillion in 2020 – which means that lost $25 billion is about 2.3% of global revenue.

Juniper Research examined two possible scenarios: medium and high impact, believing a low impact is now not possible.

The high impact scenario assumes severe disruption to international travel will continue for nine months, with travel restrictions and reduced demand for international travel continuing. In this case, the resulting impact on operators’ international roaming revenue would be significant.

In the high impact scenario, Juniper Research believes over 650 million passenger trips will be cancelled due to Coronavirus over the next nine months. This is over 80% of the anticipated international passenger trips that were previously forecast before the spread of the virus.

The research assumes that over half of all roaming revenue for the year will be affected, amounting to $25 billion in lost revenue.

The research also highlighted the period between June and August as of particular significance when the demand for international travel is high. It forecast that operators could lose up to $12 billion in roaming revenue alone in these three months.

In terms of the overall impact on operators, it must be noted however that global roaming revenue only accounts for approximately 6% of total operator-billed revenue per year, limiting the hit on the industry

Given the nature of the international travel industry, the research anticipated there will be no strategies available to operators to mitigate this loss. 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.

Juniper Research’s free report and a video commentary are available here