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Global LTE Still a Distant Reality

Syniverse analyzed global roaming traffic records using its unique vantage point in providing connectivity for over 1000 operators in over 200 countries. Here’s what we found: Global LTE is still a distant reality and a global, secure IPX backbone is now critical to accelerating LTE services on a global scale. The study reveals that a major obstacle to consistent global LTE connectivity is the lack of a secure network backbone, rather than a lack of 4G-capable devices. This is supported by the roaming patterns in the study and the following market trends. See the data points for yourself.

Syniverse Analysis of Roaming ‘Trade Winds’ Reveals Global LTE Still a Distant Reality

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Study Background

Analysis of inter-regional traffic was divided into the key regions of North America (which for the purposes of this study includes the U.S. and Canada); Latin America; the Middle East and Africa; India; Europe; and Asia Pacific (including Australia). Syniverse has a unique vantage point into the data through its global IPX network backbone that boasts the industry’s largest global footprint for enabling seamless voice and data services, including direct connectivity to over 230 operators and further reach to more than 820 operators.

Scarcity of inter-regional LTE roaming outside of the Americas

  • Combining inbound and outbound data volumes, the Americas account for more than four times as much global LTE roaming traffic than the rest of the world’s regions combined.
  • Nearly 100 percent of Latin America’s outbound traffic goes to North America; and 78 percent of North America’s outbound traffic goes to Latin America.
  • Up to 70 percent of the world’s total inter-regional LTE roaming data originates from North America; and as much as 55 percent of the world’s LTE data terminates in Latin America.
  • In Asia Pacific, a region that includes some of the world’s most advanced wireless networks, just 26 percent of its total outbound data roaming volume is LTE traffic. MEA (20 percent) and India (16 percent) lag even further behind.
  • Just 7 percent of Asia Pacific’s total data roaming volume is LTE traffic that goes anywhere other than North America.
  • As little as 21 percent of Europe’s total inbound data roaming volume is LTE traffic. In MEA, 19 percent of its inbound data roaming volume is LTE traffic.
  • Latin America is the only region where LTE roaming traffic (54 percent) outweighs non-LTE roaming traffic (46 percent).
“Enabling LTE roaming is essential for operators to capture revenue from 4G, and later 5G,” said Clark. “Our data suggests that routes across the globe need to deploy the secure IPX backbone that is central to accelerating the maturity of LTE networks and bringing 5G one step closer. As mobile users demand more rich video experiences, operators need to prioritize LTE roaming, directly linking the value that the operator plays in that experience.” Mary Clark

Chief Marketing Officer and Chief of Staff, Syniverse

Devices are LTE-ready, but limited global network buildout delays uptake

  • LTE roaming is well-established within intra-regional roaming patterns (roaming between different countries and operators within a single region), with the majority of all LTE roaming taking place within Europe (36 percent) and the majority of inbound LTE traffic in Asia Pacific coming from other Asia Pacific countries (62 percent).
  • There are approximately 4,500 LTE smartphone models globally (GSA January 2017).
  • 2,200 LTE devices, including a mix of smartphones and other devices, such as tablets, are globally enabled to support the most prevalent frequencies (800, 1800, and 2600 MHz).
  • Over 600 VoLTE-enabled smartphone models support different regions and frequencies (GSA October 2016).