A new study from Juniper Research, entitled Mobile Roaming: Emerging Opportunities, Regional Analysis & Market Forecasts 2021-2025, says that the number of international 5G roaming subscribers will reach 147 million by 2025, increasing from 4.3 million in 2021. This represents a growth of 3,300% over the next four years.
The study predicts that standalone 5G architectures, which leverage innovative core network technologies and high levels of virtualisation, will be instrumental in allowing operators to create appealing 5G roaming packages for this growing number of subscribers.
It predicts that the higher degree of software-defined network applications in standalone 5G networks will create greater efficiencies in routing of voice and data roaming traffic, thus reducing operators’ investment needed to offer 5G roaming services.
5G Standalone Agreements Are Key Now
The new study argued that current non-standalone 5G architectures, which leverage the same core network technologies as 4G, will not be sufficient in aiding operators to launch cost-effective international roaming services over 5G networks.
Despite the global pandemic causing substantial decreases in international roaming traffic, the research urges operators to bypass the creation of non-standalone 5G roaming agreements and focus on basing 5G roaming agreements on standalone architecture immediately.
Research author Scarlett Woodford noted: ‘The current decrease in international roaming traffic must not be used as a reason to neglect future roaming activities. Given that roaming agreements can take between 12 and 18 months to be established, operators must focus on standalone 5G roaming agreements now, in preparation for the recovery of the market.’
North America & Far East Lead 5G Roaming Agreements
The research identified operators in North America and the Far East as leading in 5G roaming agreements. By 2025, it anticipates that over 35% of 5G roaming subscribers will be attributable to these two regions. However, the research warns that these early agreements must be extended to include standalone 5G roaming capabilities, as the prevalence of non-standalone networks diminish.