Strong growth in data roaming in Latin America: mobile ecosystem experts gather at BARG LA

More than 80 high-level executives, representing 23 national mobile operators and 16 international mobile ecosystem companies, attended the Billing & Roaming Working Group (BARG LA) meeting on October 6th and 7th in Antigua, Guatemala. Claro Guatemala hosted this event and provided an environment for debating and collaborating on the continued development of roaming in Latin America with a focus on commercial and technical innovation.

According to the latest data from Syniverse, global roaming subscribers will double by 2017, representing 18.6% of total mobile connections. The study also projects LTE roaming will grow strongly with a 68% CAGR. In Latin America, mobile roamers will grow from 21.7 million in 2013 to 32.5 million in 2018.

“The roaming market has evolved significantly its commercial offers. These offers. These offers have provided pricing at levels that allow transparency and predictability. The market is growing strongly and we hope it continues on this path for the coming years. In Latin America particularly, we will see strong growth of data roaming for both postpaid and prepaid plans” said Alexis Arancibia, Senior Technology and Innovation Manager for GSMA Latin America and coordinator of BARG LA.

It is expected that data roaming users in Latin America will grow 13% annually between 2013 and 2018, boosted by the massive deployment of LTE by mobile operators as well as by their commercial innovations.

During the 2-day event, the executives responsible for the Roaming and Billing areas in the region addressed a comprehensive agenda, with the following topics as highlights:

  • LTE Roaming Network Tools
  • Roaming service quality
  • Central America roaming abolition status
  • Grey routes and fraud
  • Roaming services quality tests
  • Best practices and future of roaming
  • Roaming Value-Added services
  • Business case study: Data roaming monetization by an Asian operator

Central America’s roaming market was also one of the main topics of the meeting given the latest developments, such as:

  • Claro’s Elimination of roaming charges for its Central American users and travellers in the region
  • Telefónica’s “Movistar Sin Fronteras” initiative for data services in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panamá and México, and
  • Millicom Centroamérica’s recent launch of a roaming plan with local fees for postpaid customers within this subregion (data and voice included in the plan)

This meeting of the BARG LA working group was the second one this year for this group of Latin American experts representing mobile operators and service providers. The GSMA has four working groups led by executives from the GSMA members companies.