Travel SIMs, IoT devices boost data roaming traffic in Asia

Photo by Ravi Sharma

Data roaming traffic across Asia surged by 245% in the past 12 months, driven by increased adoption of roaming, new tariffs plans, travel SIMs and IoT devices across the continent, according to BICS

Based on data from BICS’ global network which connects over 700 operators and 500 digital service providers — representing over half of global data roaming traffic – outbound roaming traffic from Asia to Europe and the Middle East jumped by 88% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019.

Inbound roaming volumes from the same regions grew by 81%, reflecting continued demand for mobile services abroad from tourists and business travellers.

The findings from Asia provide further evidence of a booming demand throughout the world for data roaming, with BICS previously revealing that global roaming traffic increased by 95% during 2018.

“Subscribers now expect high-quality, affordable roaming services, whether they’re travelling inside or outside of Asia, while enterprises managing ‘fleets’ of connected devices need uninterrupted, cross-border connectivity,” said Malcolm Chan, managing director for Asia-Pacific at BICS.

“While APAC has yet to follow in the EU’s footsteps with tariff-free roaming, roaming costs have fallen, encouraging more subscribers to use their phones abroad, and helping to drive the commoditisation of mobile services,” Chan said. ‘This presents a major opportunity for mobile operators, who can boost revenues and enhance the customer experience through offering roaming packages.”

BICS anticipates that global data roaming traffic will continue to surge as operators progress 5G roadmaps. 5G technology enables new –- and more -– IoT use cases, across multiple verticals from automotive to healthcare, which will require global connectivity and further add to roaming traffic on operators’ networks.

“An exploding IoT sector and gradual roll-out of 5G in the region including China and South Korea will add to the demand from Asia’s booming manufacturing and digital economy, meaning we’re likely to see similar growth in terms of roaming data in the coming year,” Chan said.