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Data Roaming Could Bring in as Much as $42 Billion for Carriers by 2018

January 16, 2014 - Written By Eric Abent

Roaming has always been the enemy of mobile phone users, and it looks like carriers aren’t going to stop making bank on it for some time to come. A new report from Juniper Research (via VentureBeat) claims that data roaming charges could earn carriers as much as $42 billion by the time we reach 2018. To your average mobile phone user, that amount of money is unfathomable, but Juniper warns that carriers are going to have to make roaming more attractive to the end-user if they want to see that kind of cash.

Right now, Juniper is basing its estimates on two things: more opportunities to use 4G networks and decreasing roaming charges. As carries continue to expand their LTE networks, users will be tempted to use data services more, whether they’re roaming or not. Add to that shrinking roaming fees over the next few years, and suddenly doing a little bit of roaming isn’t going to sound as bad as it once did. These two combined could lead to that whopping $42 billion by 2018.

However, if carriers aren’t careful, they could see a portion of those predicted revenues go away. The report points out that carriers will have to offer services and price points that get their customers to want to use LTE networks more often. There also has to be some value in data roaming, otherwise no one is going to do it. At the moment, some carriers charge as much as $30 for a little over 100MB of data while traveling internationally, and that probably isn’t going to cut it. In fact, so long as people keep taking the SIM cards out of their phones to avoid roaming charges while traveling, carriers are at risk of seeing part of this predicted amount go down the drain.

Despite all of this, carriers still stand to make a significant amount of money from data roaming over the next few years. Even though we all hate to see that we’re roaming, sometimes it’s unavoidable, and it’s making carriers a ton of money. Here’s hoping carriers figure out some way to make data roaming more agreeable while still pulling in some money for themselves. That way, everyone’s happy (at least somewhat).