The number of international 5G roaming subscribers is expected to catapult in the next four years growing 3,300% by 2025, according to new data from Juniper Research.
The forecast is for 147 million 5G roaming subscribers to be active by 2025, up from just 4.3 million in 2021. This growth will come from the installation of standalone (SA) 5G architectures that will be instrumental in allowing operators to create roaming packages for subscribers.
Juniper said a high degree of software-defined network applications in standalone 5G networks will create efficiencies in routing of voice and data roaming traffic, reducing operators’ investment in these 5G roaming services.
Most of the current network for 5G is non-standalone (NSA), which piggybacks on the same core network technologies as 4G, and Juniper said this will be insufficient in aiding operators to launch international roaming services over 5G. SA architectures are built to run 5G only allowing for higher bandwidth, higher download speeds and lower latency.
Juniper said to reach the forecasted subscriber base, operators need to bypass the creation of NSA 5G roaming agreements and focus on basing 5G roaming agreements on SA architecture immediately.
“The current decrease in international roaming traffic must not be used as a reason to neglect future roaming activities,” said Scarlett Woodford, researcher at Juniper. “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.”
By 2025, more than 35% of 5G roaming subscribers will be in the North America and Far East regions, however, these early agreements must be extended to include SA 5G roaming capabilities as NSA networks diminish, Juniper said.
The full research can be found in Juniper’s “Mobile Roaming: The Journey to Recovery” report.