Consumer mobile devices to ‘create over 3,500 petabytes’ of data roaming traffic by 2026

Over 3,500 petabytes of data roaming traffic will be created by consumer mobile devices by 2026, according to research from roaming consultancy firm Kaleido Intelligence.

Data roaming traffic will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2023 according to the research, despite declines in 2020 and 2021 due to work from home orders and pandemic restrictions.

The research said cheaper roaming bundles, increasing data usage, and the introduction of Roam-Like-at-Home (RLAH) to new travel zones will drive traffic to pre-pandemic levels as early as 2023, representing a 56 per cent increase over 2019 levels.

The research also predicts a 30 per cent average annual growth rate for cellular IoT roaming traffic between 2020 and 2026.

However, the research predicts ongoing production and supply chain issues will mean components are in short supply across a variety of segments.

The research said that cellular IoT module shipments saw a relatively weak 2020, but this year has seen strong demand for modules, and several vendors who spoke to Kaleido reported increased demand in terms of smart metering, industrial, and healthcare applications.
Although Kaleido expects that the growth of cellular IoT module shipments will likely be constrained over the next 3 years due to the ongoing chipset crisis, it predicted overall cellular IoT roaming connections will reach over 850 million in 2025.

In addition, the research predicted that by 2026 over 80 per cent of the installed base of permanently roaming IoT connections are forecast to be accounted for by devices consuming less than 10MB per month, with Low-power wide-area (LPWAN) technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M providing critical support for these types of applications.

LPWAN is a type of wireless telecommunication wide area network (WAN) that interconnects low-bandwidth, battery-powered devices with low bit rates.

“Even as demand for Over-the-air programming (OTA) programmable SIMs grows to support deployment flexibility, roaming remains a critical tool to support global IoT connectivity,” Steffen Sorrell, research lead at Kaleido Intelligence. “The major challenge for the industry moving ahead will be monetisation.”

He added: “Service providers must adapt to support non-traffic-based billing in a manner that proves a win-win for wholesale suppliers and retail customers”.

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