2019 is drawing to a close, but before we embark on a new year, we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on a few (of many) highlights for BICS over the past 12 months.
BICS started 2019 by reflecting on 2018, and more specifically, on the significant growth in LTE roaming traffic. In January, we revealed that roaming traffic in 2018 had been almost double that of the year previously, continuing the year-on-year trend of rapid growth that we’ve been reporting in our annual findings. Great news for operators, which can monetise roaming and stimulate usage using BICS’ suite of roaming solutions.
In February, the BICS team was on-the-ground at MWC19 Barcelona, but our outlook – as ever – remained a global one. And together with another global giant in connectivity, Amazon Web Services (AWS), we announced a solution which enables any IoT application built on AWS to automatically onboard devices wherever they are in the world.
In March the BICS team was in Orlando for Enterprise Connect 2019, demonstrating our range of cloud communications tools and discussing the value to enterprises of adopting this virtualised approach to comms. Implementing these services can deliver mobility and flexibility, and provide companies with a local presence while at the same time extending their global footprint – all at a far better price point than using traditional infrastructure.
BICS is a global connectivity provider and has hundreds of global partners. In June we announced a new collaboration with African mobile network provider Flickswitch, to accelerate the deployment of the IoT in Africa. Enterprises can now benefit from affordable connectivity for their IoT projects in the region and across international borders, using multi-network SIM cards and via BICS’ IPX network. The IoT is bringing socio-economic benefits to consumers across Africa, as well as to businesses and regional governments: according to GSMA, productivity gains from the IoT will generate extra tax revenue worth $400 million to Sub-Saharan African governments in 2025.
From Africa to China; in June BICS was at MWC19 Shanghai, where we drew on our extensive network data to report that roaming traffic in Asia had increased by a massive 245% in 2018. The uplift is being driven by increased adoption of roaming, new tariffs plans, travel SIMs and IoT devices across the continent. This includes China, which is the world’s largest IoT market with 64% of the 1.5 billion global cellular connections, presenting significant revenue opportunities for the telco community and vertical sectors.
In July we conducted in-depth analysis on the global fraud landscape and revealed that the UK is the biggest target for fraudulent telecoms traffic. Fraud is a problem which will never totally disappear, though fortunately it can be effectively controlled and mitigated, by adopting BICS’ suite of fraud-prevention solutions and through greater industry collaboration.
2019 also saw 5G gaining momentum, with operators rolling out next-generation networks on a global scale (albeit initially only to pockets of subscribers), and BICS announcing two 5G firsts. Over the summer, we shared the news that, along with SK Telecom and Swisscom, we’d established the world’s first intercontinental 5G data roaming service.
This was followed by September’s launch of the first live 5G roaming service between Monaco Telecom and an Italian operator during the Monaco Yacht Show. Using BICS’ global IPX network, 5G roaming services such as this are delivering high speed, ultra-low latency 5G data connectivity for subscribers and enhancing the user experience – a win for operators. Expect more such announcements in the new year.
Mobile connectivity is at the heart of many consumers’ daily lives and underpins the majority of businesses across the world. It’s therefore easy for subscribers to forget that at the heart of international connectivity is a robust network infrastructure. BICS is constantly working to improve the services we offer, which includes expanding and optimising our network. In October, for instance, we increased our European footprint with the launch of a new fibre route between Italy and Switzerland, and five new points-of-presence that will enable low-latency IP services in North-Eastern Europe.
During the same month, we completed the triplet of MWC events for 2019, attending MWC19 Los Angeles. In addition to our strong presence in the region, BICS also has an LA-based partner, having acquired TeleSign in 2017 to create the world’s first end-to-end communications-as-a-service provider.
Proud to be an industry pioneer and always looking to the future, we rounded off 2019 with news of how BICS is supporting a global sporting event in 2020. In November, we announced a major upgrade and expansion of BICS’ connectivity backbone in Japan, increasing capacity tenfold. This was a pretty essential move which will support the large numbers of domestic and international mobile subscribers travelling in and out of Japan next year.
We’re looking forward to a prosperous new year, during which we will continue to deliver for our customers – and their customers – and enable the global mobility of people, applications and things. We’ll be seeing many of our customers and partners in February for MWC19 Barcelona but in the meantime – have a wonderful holiday season and a great new year!