As we approach the six-month anniversary of when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, local governments continue efforts to protect public health. Many countries have imposed restrictions regarding non-resident foreigners, including requirements for medical certificates confirming negative COVID-19 test results, 14-day quarantines for visitors, or total restriction from those coming from high-risk regions.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in May of this year the global lockdown imposed in response to the pandemic has led to a 98% decrease in international tourism year-over-year. According to the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts, we won’t see an international recovery for tourism until well into 2021.
With the severe drop in travel in 2020, service providers’ mobile data roaming traffic is understandably impacted. In fact, mobile roaming research firm Kaleido Intelligence predicts that mobile data roaming traffic will show a decline of 58% in 2020. So, while everyone is staying safe at home, what can operators do to soften the financial impact to this critical revenue stream? As discussed in a recent podcast with Kaleido Intelligence, Mobileum’s Chief of Roaming Business Unit, Kishore Vangipuram, breaks down a few strategies that operators can follow:
- Rethink Pricing Models: Retail and wholesale roaming margins were declining pre-pandemic, but volume was increasing, so there was still a consistent revenue stream. While operators are waiting for roaming to pick up again, now is the time to consider new initiatives that will provide long-term benefits and help to shore up revenues in the future. One option that service providers may want to consider is enterprise roaming via eSIMs.
- Continue Existing VoLTE Roaming Initiatives: It’s tempting to succumb to short term pressures right now and let go of long-term initiatives. But it’s important to remember the benefits of launching VoLTE Roaming, as it supports two key initiatives: sunsetting 2G and 3G networks, which will drive cost reductions; and the expansion of 5G and 5G roaming. VoLTE roaming may be tricky to implement, but the benefits are well worth the effort, which is all the more reason to stay on track.
- Stay the Course with 5G Plans: In a recent Mobileum study on the impacts of COVID-19, most respondents said they have no plans to delay their 5G and IoT Roaming initiatives (70% and 75%, respectively). While the pandemic has affected our daily lives in so many ways, 5G is still coming, and operators need to stay the course if they want to remain competitive.
With the anticipated return of tourism and continued growth of IoT and 5G roaming, there is the promise of better days. Once restrictions have been lifted and infection rates decline, the pent up demand for travel will be evident as tourists and business travelers make up for lost time. Meanwhile, service providers need to be ready. It’s important to remain focused and not lose sight of the benefits of critical projects designed to support long-term growth. And as always, we are here to provide the support needed to get it done.
To learn more about how you can continue to transform your business with innovative roaming products and services, listen to the podcast with Kishore Vangipuram, Chief of Roaming Business Unit at Mobileum and Nitin Bass, Chief of Strategy and Insights, Kaleido Intelligence.