There is set to be a 31% annual increase in retail roaming revenues from consumer mobile connections for operators in 2023, reaching $8 billion. This is forecast to reach $18 billion in 2027, exceeding pre-COVID levels as early as 2025 as travel recovers fully and increased roaming usage across key markets drives growth.
According to roam expert Kaleido’s new Retail Roaming: Market Trends & Outlook 2023 report 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 RLAH and the introduction of cheaper daily bundles worldwide.
Travel recovery in 2023 represents 88% of 2019 levels
Meanwhile, consumer confidence in travel is gradually rising to pre-COVID levels, with international travel trips expected to cross the 1 billion-mark for the first time in three years by the end of this year. Kaleido predicts that global outbound travel trips will witness a 49% y-o-y growth in 2023 to exceed 1.8 billion. Globally, travel will return to 88% of pre-COVID volume by the end of 2023 and 103% by the end of 2024.
Shrey Bhandari, Senior Research Analyst at Kaleido Intelligence, comments: “Roaming revenues in a post-pandemic world are expected to significantly improve, which is a good sign for the industry. Factors such as improving roaming regulations, operator-driven initiatives, and steady 5G deployment will further boost the market”.
Growing need to address gap between wholesale & retail
The research found that although the retail roaming industry is primed for sustained growth, it continues to face major challenges pertaining to pricing models and the quality of service. For instance, several corridors around the world continue to be plagued by high roaming prices and retail bundles. In comparison to wholesale negotiated discount rates and deals, charging models to consumers and business users are in some cases very unclear or high in price for many corridors.
Consequently, the relevance of eSIM providers in a roaming context will continue to grow if the relevant retail and wholesale teams do not address this gap on a global basis.