Juniper Research predicted that European operators will not increase prices to offset a near 30 per cent drop in roaming revenues when European Union (EU) mandated cuts come into force in 2017.
The research company has forecast that European operators will see income from roaming fees drop by 28 per cent in 2017, when operators will be obliged to phase out premium pricing on international calls, SMS and data services for customers roaming within EU member state markets.
However, Juniper Research does not expect European operators to significantly increase their tariff charges to offset the predicted drop in roaming revenues. The company noted that operators have warned the mandated reductions would lead to higher fees, but said that tough competition in individual markets makes such increases unlikely.
Nitin Bhas, author of a Juniper Research study into the impact of the roaming charge changes, said operators will instead seek to offset the drop by encouraging subscribers to use their phones more.
Operators "will need to work with content providers and aggregators even more closely now in order to provide more innovative content services to which users will attach value," Bhas said.
Juniper Research also tipped European roaming revenues to recover in the mid-term, as the lower prices encourage subscribers to make more calls or access more data services while travelling within the EU. Put simply, the lower fees will spur an increase in active roaming subscribers, it stated.
However, operators face an uphill battle to convince all of their subscribers to use their mobile phones while travelling, even those travelling in the EU.
The research company noted that a "sizable base of 'ingrained' silent roamers" will still exist from 2017 onwards. Juniper Research classified such customers as those who switch off roaming services completely, or seek alternative ways of accessing services such as Wi-Fi or locally sourced SIMs.
While European operators will experience the highest drop in roaming revenues through 2017, Juniper Research also predicted that global fees will drop by 7 per cent that year to $52 billion (€47.5 billion). North America, the Far East, and China will account for the highest proportion of global mobile data roaming revenue in 2017, the company forecast.
- see this Juniper Research announcement
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