Global LTE traffic doubled in 2017, according to BICS

18 January 2018 | James Pearce


Europe saw a massive 800% growth in data roaming during the summer months following the introduction of new EU roaming rules, while LTE traffic doubled in 2017, according to roaming figures from BICS.

Mikael Schachne BICSThe most recent figures from the wholesale carrier found that 562 operators now offer LTE services across the glove – up 25% on the end of 2016.

BICS, which offers global wholesale services for voice, mobile data, and capacity, said this trend iss expected to continue, predicting the growth of the same volume in 2018.

This, along with the introduction of the European Union’s flagship Roam Like at Home policy in June 2017 led to an increase in LTE data roaming traffic of between 600 and 800% during the summer months when compared with 2016, BICS found.

Despite the increase, BICS estimates that around 20% of subscribers in the EU have yet to take advantage of the new roaming regulations, which make using mobile phones in other EU states free. This, the carrier adds, is partially down to a lack of awareness about the ruling, and means LTE roaming traffic could increase even further in 2018.

2017 also saw a significant increase in LTE roaming in other regions, including Africa. BICS’ latest data shows a growth in the number of MVNOs and tier three / four operators introducing LTE roaming services in the region.

“As infrastructure improves and populations and workforces become more globalised, we’ll see an even greater number of operators across the world offering LTE roaming to ensure they stay relevant and competitive,” said Mikaël Schachne, VP mobility solutions, BICS.

“Roam Like at Home has upped consumer expectations for high quality, affordable roaming services, wherever they travel. Operators in other regions will therefore look to emulate a similar situation this year by banding together to offer better packages to subscribers while optimising traffic flow and cost efficiencies at the back-end. With BICS’ IPX Transport service, we’ll be supporting operators as they move to an all-IP environment, helping to democratise the roaming experience.

“Finally, over the coming year we expect LTE roaming traffic to be impacted by the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a focus on IPX signalling security – and compliance – as well as the overall decrease of data rates.”

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