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Operators need to prepare for a substantial increase in data consumption pressures from roaming subscribers according to a new report from Transaction Network Services (TNS).

The report focuses on the findings of an independent survey*, commissioned by TNS, which explores how many cell phone users continue to use their apps when roaming, whether they leave them open in the background when not using them, and if they attempt to limit their data consumption when not on their home network.

Paul Florack, Vice President of Product Management for TNS’ Telecommunication Services Division, said: “Our findings indicate that while unlimited data plans that include roaming have been around for a while, users still appear wary when it comes to using data when roaming, but that will change. 54% of the subscribers in our survey confirmed that they continue to use apps when roaming outside of their home network. This suggests that the habits ingrained during the dominance of tiered plans are slower to evolve, and operators should acknowledge that the data consumption levels of roaming subscribers currently are much lower than can be expected over the coming months and years.

“Pressures on operator networks will increase as cell phone users slip into new habits which align with their new freedom to consume as much data when roaming as they wish without incurring additional costs. As well as capacity pressures, operators can expect to incur far greater wholesale roaming costs and potentially see increases in subscriber churn rates if the larger data demands are not satisfied in line with subscriber expectations.”

TNS’ report looks at the survey findings in detail, including analysis of the responses by age and gender, providing valuable insights for operators. Cell phone users aged between 18 and 24 left apps running open in the background more than the other age groups, while more women than men attempted to limit the amount of data they consumed when roaming.

Mr Florack said: “We encourage operators to review our report and take into consideration the implications of our findings in their network planning activities. Operators with a high proportion of subscribers that roam would benefit from considering a data compression and optimization solution which increases available bandwidth while reducing backhaul and bandwidth costs.”

The report entitled Subscriber Data Consumption Habits is available to download for free by clicking here or by emailing

From small rural operators in the US to the largest multi-national carriers, TNS has over 500 operator customers and addresses the full needs of wireless and wireline operators in the US and globally. TNS’ networks have been specifically designed and configured for the transmission of transaction-related time sensitive data and support a variety of widely accepted communications protocols.

Since it was founded in 1990, TNS has grown to provide services in more than 60 countries across the Americas, Europe and the Asia Pacific region, and offers 24x7x365 support via its Network Operating Centers in the US, UK and Australia.

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