BICS, the leading communications enabler, has reported a sharp increase in LTE roaming traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, which is being largely driven by Europe.
In Q1 2018, Europe overtook the Middle East to become the top destination for outgoing roamers from Asia-Pacific using LTE services, accounting for around 54% of outbound LTE roaming traffic. Tourists and business travellers visiting the region from Europe, in turn, accounted for the highest number of inbound roamers (57%).
During 2017, LTE roaming traffic in the region grew three-fold, and the recent data suggests that growth is set to continue in 2018. Last year LTE calls made between countries within Asia-Pacific accounted for 30% of international LTE traffic in the region.
This reflects an increase in LTE data roaming globally. In January, BICS reported that global LTE roaming traffic more than doubled in 2017, with Europe experiencing a 600-800% increase in traffic during the summer months. The surge in LTE roaming traffic in Europe was driven in part by the EU’s regulation on wholesale roaming charges which came into effect in June 2017.
“The Roam Like At Home ruling in Europe led to greater awareness of the benefits international roaming brings,” commented Malcolm Chan, Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, BICS. “Subscribers now expect high quality, affordable roaming services, whether they’re travelling inside or outside of Europe. With Europe accounting for such a significant portion of Asia’s roaming traffic, overtaking the Middle East, it’s clear that the impact of the legislation is being felt on a global scale.”
Momentum for roaming in Asia-Pacific has been further boosted by the recent growth in LTE subscribers.
China, with 1 billion 4G connections and accounting for 40.2% of all global LTE connections, spearheads this growth, but other markets such as Australia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and India are also seeing accelerating migration to 4G. The GSMA estimates that mobile data growth will be the driving force behind future revenues and operator investment in the region.
“Contrary to established belief, Asian consumers no longer want to switch off their phones or buy local SIM cards when travelling overseas,” added Chan. “We anticipate further growth as the number of connected devices surges throughout the region. BICS will continue to reinforce its backbone of connectivity by cementing and expanding our global footprint and supporting operators as they identify new and innovative ways to monetise services and improve their customer offering.”