International roaming enabler BICS saw a big jump in 5G roaming between 2022 and 2023. Consumer and IoT device roaming on non-standalone 5G networks jumped 156%.

Non-standalone 5G networks were the first to be deployed and are anchored to 4G technology. Roaming for standalone networks has been more challenging, BICS notes.

“The uptick we’re seeing on our networks shows that non-standalone 5G is truly picking up in force and momentum now,” said Mikael Schachne, chief revenue officer for enterprise at BICS, in a prepared statement. “Unlocking the full potential of 5G will come from more investment in standalone 5G.”

A recent forecast from test equipment vendor Spirent calls for standalone 5G to reach “critical mass” this year.

IoT Devices

IoT device roaming saw a bigger increase than consumer devices did.

BICS found a 277% YoY increase in IoT devices roaming on 5G. This is particularly impressive, considering that, according to BICS, manufacturers have faced challenges in building 5G roaming-compatible devices.

Other key findings:

  • There was a 37% increasing in roaming traffic for consumer devices (from 608 million to 817 million) across 3G, 4G and 5G between 2022 and 2023, likely due to higher tourism. The number of consumer roamers grew by 155% between the two years.
  • 5G roaming is now available in over 60 countries worldwide
  • Consumer and IoT roaming data usage is forecast to rise by 36% in 2024
  • Roughly 176 million 5G roamers appeared in 2023, up from 68 million in 2022

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