Juniper Research: Mobile Roaming and the $2 Billion Revenue Leakage Problem

Juniper Research has found that the inability to distinguish between 4G and 5G data traffic using current standards will result in greater roaming revenue losses as the travel industry returns to pre-pandemic levels and 5G adoption increases. Juniper expects losses from roaming data traffic misidentification will rise to $2.1 billion by 2026 if the industry doesn’t implement the Billing & Charging Evolution Protocol (BCE), an end-to-end industry-wide standard defined by the GSMA that introduces new capabilities that identify roaming data traffic over different network technologies.

In response, the new research, Data & Financial Clearing: Emerging Trends, Key Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2021-2026, cited the support by operators for the BCE (Billing & Charging Evolution) protocol as being a key strategy to minimize the extent of revenue leakage. BCE is an end-to-end industry-wide standard defined by the GSMA that introduces new capabilities that identify roaming data traffic over different network technologies.

This issue of misidentifying roaming data will only be exacerbated by the rising number of 5G subscribers roaming internationally. The report forecasts that there will be over 200 million 5G roaming connections by 2026; rising from 5 million in 2021. This growth is driven by increasing 5G adoption and a return to pre-pandemic levels of international travel. In response, it urged operators to identify emerging areas of potential revenue leakage by leveraging machine learning in roaming analytics tools to efficiently assess roaming behavior and data usage.

In addition, the report found that, to effectively mitigate the growing complexity of clearing processes arising from increased demand for data when roaming, operators must move away from established roaming clearing practices in favor of BCE.

Research author Scarlett Woodford remarked:

“By combining BCE with AI-enabled roaming analytics suites, operators will be ideally positioned to deal with the rise in roaming data. Separating roaming traffic by network connectivity is essential to allow operators to charge roaming partners based on latency and download speed, and maximize overall 5G roaming revenue.”

Steering of Roaming Explained:

Roaming revenue can be drastically affected by regional regulations and pricing decreases; resulting in operators seeking alternative ways of generating profits from roaming traffic.  The term ‘Steering of Roaming’ refers to a process in which roaming traffic is redirected to networks with whom an operator has the best wholesale rates. Operators are able to prioritize which network a device connects to when multiple networks are within range. Mobile operators are able to decide which partner network their subscribers will use whilst roaming, in order to reduce outbound roaming costs and ensure that roaming subscribers receive high-quality service.

Operators can rely on third-party enterprises to provide this service, such as BICS, with business analytics used to guide roaming traffic and identify preferential partner networks. If implemented correctly, steering of roaming can help operators increase margins through the reduction of operating costs. Roaming traffic is directed to the partner network offering the best rates, ultimately resulting in operators being able to pass these savings onto their subscribers with lower roaming charges.