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Roaming retail revenues to reach $33bn by 2028, with 5G roaming set to surge

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Operators will see retail roaming revenues from consumer and IoT mobile connections approach $33bn by 2028, fuelled by a complete recovery in travel and increased consumer roaming usage across key markets.

In addition, an eight-fold increase in 5G consumer roaming connections between 2024 and 2028 is also forecast, contributing to an estimated 70% average annual growth in retail revenues.

According to Retail Roaming: Market Trends & Outlook 2024 research found that the retail roaming spend per trip will continue to fall in all major regions over the next five years. This will be driven by the continued expansion of ‘roam like at home’ and the introduction of cheaper daily bundles worldwide.

Kaleido expects IoT roaming connections to continue to see robust growth, exceeding 1 billion by 2028. However, monetisation of roaming IoT devices will become a fundamental aspect for operators, as they ensure access based charging offers do not price customers out of the market.

Growing impact of eSIM technology on wholesale & retail revenues

Despite increasing operator and regulatory roaming initiatives to reduce roaming costs for travellers, there remain key travel corridors that often apply high roaming charges, leading to some travellers remaining ‘silent roamers’.

Travel connectivity alternatives such as travel eSIMs are becoming an attractive option for these roamers, due to their cost-effectiveness and ability to instantly switch to a local operator.

The growing number of travel eSIM providers is likely to have an immense impact on the roaming industry. With travel eSIM spend predicted to reach $10 billion by 2028, operators must look for ways to offset any negative impact of travel eSIMs by redirecting potential retail roaming revenues to their direct channels.

Dawnn Dinsey, Research Analyst at Kaleido Intelligence says: “Operator-driven initiatives continue to be the bedrock for roaming revenue growth, as customers benefit from RLAH, bundling plans, and affordable daily passes. Coupled with steady 5G deployments, IoT roaming and VoLTE roaming, the retail roaming market is expected to significantly improve over the next 5 years”.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence in travel is back to pre-COVID levels, with international travel trips expected to cross the 2 billion mark by the end of this year. Kaleido predicts that global outbound travel trips will witness a 27% y-o-y growth in 2024, representing a 3% growth over 2019 volume.

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