More than a quarter (26 percent) of European operators have seen fraud rise since the abolition of roaming charges within the EU in June, new research shows.
The report by roaming company Mobileum found that 87 percent of operators had seen a strong increase in data traffic and 71 percent in voice since the charges were axed as part of the European Union's Digital Single Market strategy.
However, 76 percent did not believe that there had been compensating revenue to make up for this growth.
According to Mobileum, some operators are finding their existing IT systems are not coping with the changes required by the new roaming legislation.
In particular, detecting and acting to prevent permanent roamers, who buy a cheaper plan abroad and then use it in their home country, was proving “really complex in nature”.
Tim Moran, SVP of Product and Offering at Mobileum, predicted that there may be a surge in fraudsters taking advantage of margins from bypassing legal distribution channels.
Moran also said that operators may increase domestic retail rates to compensate for the cost of the additional traffic.
Moran said: “It is still very early stages, but our research highlights that investigations into fraud and abuse in the context of the new regulations are not being flagged.
“The generous fair usage policy means it is becoming far more difficult to watch for fraud and abuse. We expect fraudsters to be monitoring what loopholes have appeared and how they can be exploited.
“Operators should implement measures to detect permanent roamers and apply roaming surcharges to make up for loss of roaming revenue to some extent.
He also advised operators to focus on innovative roaming bundles and understanding customers using data to grow roaming revenues in the long term.
Yesterday, a study from Juniper Research had a more optimistic view of the future of roaming, suggesting that international revenues would grow from $21 billion in 2017 to $31 billion in 2022.
The firm forecasted that the introduction of unlimited packages would lead the global average roaming data usage per user per year to increase from around 500MB in 2017 to almost 1.6GB by 2022.
This growth was despite an 11 percent fall in data revenues in 2017, including a 46 percent decline in Western Europe, due to the introduction of so-called 'roam like at home' packages.