With 5G technology being rolled out in numerous areas worldwide, the question that lingers in many international travelers’ minds is whether or not they’ll be able to enjoy 5G roaming services.
Right now, as you’re reading this, there are countries already enjoying this much-awaited service. Research indicates that there are currently about 4.5 million subscribers of 5G roaming services and that the number is set to rise to a whopping 210 million by 2026.
This article covers in detail some of the critical 5G roaming features you should be aware of and then lists the best providers of these services.
Features of 5G roaming
As the generations of mobile internet technology progressed from 1G to 5G, there has always been an increase in speed, reduced latency, and higher capacity. Regarding speed, 5G is 10 times faster than 4G.
It features peak download speeds of 20 Gigabits per second or 2.5 gigabytes per second and peak upload speeds of 10 Gigabits per second or 1.25 gigabytes per second.
Latency is a measure of the time it takes for a signal to move from its source to the receiver and then back to the source again. 5G technology boasts a latency of four milliseconds, which is faster than human visual processing. In this sense, you can control remote devices in almost real-time. 4G, meanwhile, lags behind at a latency of 50 to 100 milliseconds.
In terms of capacity, 5G delivers 1000 times more capacity than 4G. This enables the connection of hundreds or thousands of IoT devices without any hitch in communication between them. Also, 5G has increased bandwidth, meaning thousands of people can use the network in a specific area without it getting slow.
The above are general features of the 5G technology. The following are now more specific to 5G roaming:
- Non-standalone: The first set of 5G devices and networks are classed as non-standalone. This means that the 5G networks will be supported by the already present 4G infrastructure. For instance, you can use your 5G-enabled smartphone to connect to a 5G network for big data tasks but still use 4G frequencies for low-data applications, like calling. This is part of what’s referred to as enhanced mobile broadband. And that’s what most 5G roaming providers have as of now.
- Standalone 5G: The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is still reviewing the 5G standalone network and device standards. Though it comes with the benefit of improved efficiency, it requires humongous capital investment to set up 5G infrastructure, which many tech companies may not immediately afford. And so, you expect 4G and 5G to co-exist for some time before a complete overhaul.
- Cloud-native signaling: There will most likely be a surge of new 5G-enabled devices as the technology sweeps across the world. This influx will be challenging to the operators as they’ll have a lot of signaling issues to solve. An excellent approach is to have cloud-based signaling of 5G so as to facilitate seamless roaming.
- Security: 5G isn’t without security loopholes. Roaming devices are prone to various vulnerabilities as a result of the explosion of endpoints. Thus, 5G roaming operators need to use the Security Edge Protection proxy (SEPP) to combine all roaming interfaces into one and subject them to a secure encryption layer.
- SMS over IP. When traveling abroad for business, you’d also want to be able to text your friends, family, and colleagues back in your country. So, choose a 5G roaming provider that supports SMS over IP.
5 best 5G roaming providers
You certainly expect some of the major telecommunications companies in the world on this list. The moment 5G became a reality, the leading telecom firms rushed to adopt the technology to offer their customers the best. The following five companies stand out as the best 5G roaming providers, given the range of useful features they offer.
On October 7, 2020, Syniverse, the world’s most connected company, announced that it would be working with NTT DOCOMO, INC, the predominant mobile phone operator in Japan, to be the first to offer an inbound 5G roaming service. Syniverse makes use of its IPX Network to facilitate 5G roaming connections.
It reduces the complexity of the connections and also ensures high-quality end-to-end services. And that has made it possible for the tech giant to connect with over 750 mobile internet companies in over 150 countries worldwide. On the other hand, DOCOMO, which boasts over 80 million subscribers, is also seeking other collaborations with overseas mobile operators to ensure all travelers to Japan enjoy 5G roaming services. (4)
Vodafone offers 4G roaming connectivity to about 750 million customers worldwide, having partnered with over 90 mobile operators. Since they started offering 5G roaming in 2019, they have expanded to countries like Spain, Italy, and Germany. And they intend to continue working with the appropriate partners to uphold the 5G industry standards.
3. Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS)
This renowned communications enabler launched 5G roaming services between Three Austria of Austria and Sunrise UPC of Switzerland. The company actually claims to be the first one to initiate 5G intercontinental roaming.
In September 2020, AT&T became the first operator to offer U.S. smartphone users in Japan 5G roaming services. This was their partnership with NTT DOCOMO. Throughout the course of the 3G and 4G technologies, this company has been one of the world leaders in global roaming, and so it was expected of them to adopt 5G that quickly.
5. Smart Communications Inc.
Smart Communications Inc is the wireless unit of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). In April 2023, the company announced its partnership with Japan’s NTT DOCOMO to roll out 5G roaming services.
It also has other similar partnerships with Australia’s Vodafone, China’s China Mobile, Bahrain’s Zain, UAE’s Etisalat and du, Taiwan’s FarEasTone, and South Korea’s KT Corp.
Subscribe to 5G roaming now
With so many telco giants partnering across the world to offer 5G roaming services, you wouldn’t want to spend any more time without subscribing to their services.
5G is surely a dream come true, in that you can do things over the internet at lightning speeds. And that’s especially true when you’re roaming from country to country, wherein you need internet for communication, finding directions, and handling various assignments online.
- “5G ROAMING STRATEGIES: FUTURE OUTLOOK, OPPORTUNITIES & MARKET FORECASTS 2023-2026,” https://www.juniperresearch.com/researchstore/operators-providers/5g-roaming-strategies
- “5G Speed: How to Understand the Numbers,” https://www.lifewire.com/5g-speed-4180992
- “5G: What is Standalone (SA) vs Non-Standalone (NSA) Networks?” https://www.mediatek.com/blog/5g-what-is-standalone-sa-vs-non-standalone-nsa
- “Syniverse First to Offer Inbound 5G Roaming Service in Japan,” https://www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2020-10-08/syniverse-first-to-offer-inbound-5g-roaming-service-in-japan