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Local vs Roaming Connectivity for the Traveler eSIM Market

Understanding the Traveler eSIM Market

In an increasingly connected world, the need for seamless mobile connectivity while traveling has become more critical than ever. Enter the traveler eSIM market: a sector dedicated to providing travelers with electronic SIM (eSIM) solutions that offer flexible, convenient, and cost-effective mobile connectivity without needing physical SIM cards. eSIM technology allows users to switch between different mobile carriers. It plans digitally, making it an attractive option for globetrotters who wish to stay connected without the hassle of swapping out physical SIM cards, having to figure out how to purchase a SIM card on arrival in a country they may not be familiar with, or facing excessive roaming charges.

Based on this technology, many companies have appeared in recent years to cater to a wide range of users, including tourists, business travelers, and digital nomads. They require reliable mobile data and voice services as they move across different countries and regions. Providers of such solutions have 2 options to offer users: local connectivity and roaming connectivity. Each comes with its unique set of advantages and challenges for both providers and users.

Advantages of Local Connectivity

For Providers

Volume Discounts: Mobile network operators (MNOs) can offer very aggressive prices to eSIM providers when volumes are high. This can greatly increase the provider’s operating margin and allow them to expand their offerings, in turn, increasing volume.

SMS and Voice Services: Local SIM cards can offer local phone numbers, voice services, and very low SMS prices. Even though roaming providers can sometimes allow for these features, it is quite rare that they offer all of them, and they are usually more expensive.

Brand Recognition: By using the brand name of the local partner, providers can publicize their services by piggybacking on the existing brand awareness of the local operator.

For Users

Cost Efficiency: Local connectivity is often more cost-effective than international roaming. Travelers can purchase local data plans competitively, avoiding hefty roaming charges.

Better Network Performance: Using a local network typically results in better signal strength and faster data speeds than roaming on a foreign network. This ensures a smoother and more reliable connectivity experience.

Easy Access to Local Services: Local connectivity allows travelers to access local phone numbers and voice services, enabling them to use country-specific services and offers, such as local apps, promotions, and emergency services, enhancing their travel experience.

Advantages of Roaming Connectivity

For Providers

Easier Integration: Roaming aggregators and MVNOs can be more technologically savvy than local providers, making the integration process to the provider’s app and interface much easier and with more options.

Simplicity in Offering Services: Providers can offer roaming services without the need to establish new partnerships or negotiate local agreements, simplifying the service provision process.

Connectivity Management Platform (CMP): Most roaming providers will give resellers a platform to manage their SIM cards, perform basic troubleshooting, and monitor usage.

For Users

Regional Plans: Roaming connectivity offers travelers the convenience of having multiple countries enabled on the same plan. In regions where countries are relatively small, and travelers tend to hop from one to another, it is quite convenient not to worry about connectivity in each one.

Multiple Operators Available: Through roaming SIMs, various operators can be enabled in the same country, giving the user better coverage by not relying on a single carrier.

Plan Options: With roaming, users tend to have more plan options since providers usually have more flexibility in creating data plans, topping up existing plans, and extending plan validity.


The traveler eSIM market presents a dynamic landscape with distinct advantages for both local and roaming connectivity. Local connectivity can offer lower prices, better connectivity, and a wider array of services; however, it requires providers to integrate individually with an operator in each country, which can be troublesome and expensive. Roaming connectivity allows for a faster go-to-market approach, usually gaining access to almost the entire world by integrating a single aggregator, although cost and connectivity may suffer.

Ultimately, the choice between local and roaming connectivity depends on the individual needs and preferences of travelers. While local connectivity may be the preferred option for those seeking cost-effective and high-performance network access, roaming connectivity appeals to those who prioritize convenience and continuity. As the traveler eSIM market continues to evolve, providers will need to balance these factors to deliver optimal solutions that cater to the diverse demands of global travelers.


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