Data to Drive In-Flight Mobile Roaming Revenues to Reach $3 billion by 2020 - Juniper Research

Data to Drive In-Flight Mobile Roaming Revenues to Reach $3 billion by 2020 - Juniper Research Image Credit: T-Mobile

Operator revenue for in-flight roaming, which includes mobile voice, data and SMS is projected to reach nearly $3 billion by 2020, double the value estimated for this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research. However, in terms of total operator billed mobile roaming revenues, in-flight roaming will only represent around 5% of revenues globally by 2020. 

The new research noted that these revenues will largely be driven by increasing data usage while on-board an aircraft. It argued that these would primarily stem from consumers being attracted by a combination of price reductions –the result of reduced retail roaming charges – and an increase in the availability of higher speed data services (2.5G to 3G & 4G). 

The research observed that while in-flight roaming trends closely follow terrestrial roaming trends, roaming charges continue to be significantly higher. For example, Vodafone NZ charges $2.3 per minute for making a voice call and $13 per MB for data usage on selected airlines. Meanwhile, Vodafone UK charges $5 per MB for up to 5MB, then $27 for every 5MB after that; for voice it charges approximately $3 for making a call. Nearly all traffic, whether free or paid for, is delivered via a satellite and there are inherent satellite charges to be included.

The research found that while there is great uncertainty amongst stakeholders on how this market will develop, in-flight mobile service providers will continue to bundle satellite charges into their wholesale roaming packages.

Research author Nitin Bhas
High in-flight mobile roaming charges will continue to be a key hurdle for the industry. Given the steep pricing levels for in-flight roaming, the average annual spend per mobile roamer on in-flight and maritime roaming services will only represent a modest increase over the forecast period.

Ray is a news editor at The Fast Mode, bringing with him more than 10 years of experience in the wireless industry.

For tips and feedback, email Ray at ray.sharma(at)thefastmode.com, or reach him on LinkedIn @raysharma10, Facebook @1RaySharma

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