Random roaming could cost mobile operators share of $50 Billion market

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Uncontrolled roaming gifts revenue to rivals, says Roamware

Global roaming calls on mobile networks could now be worth in the region of $50 billion annually according to roaming specialists Roamware Inc.  But, the company says, operators who are not tuned into the potential of controlled roaming are gifting revenue to rival networks.

The last official industry valuation on the roaming market – calls made on networks other than subscribers’ ‘home’ networks –  based on GSM technology, was some four years ago when global GSM subscribers had reached 250million in 140 countries.  The roaming market was estimated to be worth around $12billion annually – a little under ten per cent of the annual market at the time.
 
Today, total global subscribers number more than one billion with global operator revenues from GSM alone forecast to hit $500billion by 2005. 
 
Roamware CEO John Hoffman, says the figures add up to big business for wireless operators.
 
"Whichever way you cut the cake the cake – roaming has become a huge global business for the operators. If we assume the growth rate for roaming has matched subscriber and revenue expansion then we are looking at a business opportunity worth in the region of $50billion annually.
 
"Mobile phone network operators that do not give roaming subscribers their full attention are potentially losing out," adds Hoffman. "And it’s not about getting subscribers to spend more, it’s about getting them to stick to the right partner networks, and to be able to use the same services when they roam that they use when at home. Roaming is no longer about the availability of service, it’s about the capability of the services you can access when you roam. 
 
"Properly served roaming subscribers make more use of their phone, and the savvy home network operators get the partner revenue – instead of gifting it to a rival network through random roaming."
 
With the implementation of enabling technologies for data, roaming services have entered a new era. Providing transparent access may prove to be the difference between success and failure in terms of revenue generation.
 
But Hoffman is also clear about the benefits to the subscriber.
 
"When I find a network that has implemented the ability for me to mirror my home environment, I willingly utilise the services.  I am pleased that my phone remains a powerhouse communications tool and I use it more frequently – I can also benefit from competitive prices because I have been roaming on a partner or associate network.
 
"And while I may spend more overall, I am also happier because I get more done – everybody wins."