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LTE roaming in Africa takes off

LTE roaming in Africa took off in 2017, according to an authoritative new report from BICS.

The report shows a growth in the number of MVNOs and tier three and four operators introducing LTE roaming services in the region. These are following in the footsteps of tier one and two operators who launched similar offerings in previous years.

BICs believes that Africa will continue as a major growth area for LTE deployment in 2018, being one of the only continents with a large proportion of countries still not offering any LTE services.

Belgian headquartered BICs, a global wholesale carrier for voice, mobile data and capacity services, conducts the research annually in order to keep abreast of global roaming trends and to identify market drivers.

Overall the report shows that global LTE traffic more than doubled in 2017 and will increase by the same volume in 2018. This marks a continuation of the trend for year-on-year LTE traffic growth. BICS’ most recent data, gathered at the close of 2017, shows that a total of 562 operators globally now offer LTE services, an increase of 25% on the previous year.

The largest LTE data roaming traffic growth in 2017 took place in the European Union which saw a massive 600-800% increase in traffic compared with 2016. This was driven by the EU’s regulation on wholesale roaming charges which came into effect in June 2017.

BICS estimates that around 20% of EU subscribers have still not taken advantage of new roaming freedoms, having either been unaware of the ruling, or hesitant to take advantage of it. As such, BICS expects an even greater increase in LTE roaming traffic in the region this year, as knowledge of ‘Roam Like at Home’ amongst European subscribers increases and operators offer more competitive packages.

“As infrastructure improves and populations and workforces become more globalised, we’ll see an even greater number of operators across the world offering LTE roaming to ensure they stay relevant and competitive,” said Mikaël Schachne, VP Mobility Solutions, BICS.

BICS’ IPX platform, including LTE signalling, allows service providers to exchange any IP traffic bilaterally with any IPX destination, through a single interconnection which manages service quality. Operators are able to establish roaming and inter-working agreements with other over 350 members on the network. The platform allows customers to offer their subscribers high quality data roaming with other MNOs, MVNOs, MVNEs, fixed network operators, ISPs and ASPs globally.

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