Last week’s vote by the European Parliament, which was overwhelmingly in favour of new roaming rules, has both reduced the cost of roaming services for consumers and also paved the way for greater competition among operators for roaming customers. The near unanimous vote (578-10 in favour) for the new consumer-friendly regulations means not only that EU travellers will save money on voice, SMS and data roaming, but also that companies will soon be able to sell roaming services directly to users – who will be able to keep the same number they have for home mobile services.
At the recent Roaming World Congress hosted by IIR an animated panel session highlighted a number of challenges and opportunities imminent in the forthcoming London Olympics. These Olympics have been heralded as a major opportunity for medals to be won and sport to be celebrated but there are also a number of reasons to celebrate the games as a major driver for mobile roaming.
Knowing some pain is coming does not always reduce the impact when it comes, ask anyone growing up in the pre-health and safety school playground of the 1980’s were entertainment revolved around activities any marauding Viking would be proud of. The sense of impending doom coming whenever the break-time bell rang is most likely the way European operators had been feeling in the run up to the May 10th meeting to agree the final details of Roaming III. However there are strategies one can use to reduce pain for particular ailments and the current analgesic for regualtory price capping is bundling.
Telefónica has announced a new pan-European data roaming tariff for customers, which it claims is up to ten times cheaper than the new price caps approved by the European Parliament this week.
Customers on the Movistar and O2 networks will be able to use up to 25MB of data whilst abroad, anywhere across the 27 European Union member states, for just €2 per day.
Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Council and the European Commission have voted in favour of new rules that will lower roaming rates in the EU and see the creation of an EU-wide roaming market.
The thought of Apple becoming an MVNO and offering its customers IP voice and messaging services as a cheap alternative to conventional voice and SMS is one that keeps many mobile operator CEOs awake at night. It is not just the loss of voice and SMS revenues that alarms operators. It is the risk that the operator would lose so much of its retail business. Network operators would become invisible to many of their (previous) customers.
Legislation being passed through European Court could radically change the EU roaming market and see operators competing for the business of travellers and the creation of an EU-wide “roaming marketplace”.
The opportunity for roaming in Africa is tied to the available audience which is limited by factors that include the available audience for such services based on national expenditures and the GDP PPP of would-be roamers and travel patterns in the region. On the positive-side Africa’s roamers are biased toward enterprise users who generally have higher expendable incomes and greater resistance to price fluctuations (price inelastic).
Prices for roaming in Europe are set to drop after the European Parliament and Danish Presidency of the Council of Ministers provisionally agreed a deal to revamp the market, forcing operators in Europe to lower costs when using their devices abroad.
The GSMA has announced a collaboration with the Wireless Broadband Alliance aimed at simplifying the process by which mobile devices connect to wifi networks. The joint initiative will see the SIM adopted as the principal means by which managed wifi networks identify mobile devices, paving the way for cross-network roaming agreements.
Ahmed Al Mehyas, General Manager for Emirates Data Clearing House (EDCH), owned by operator group Etisalat, talks to telecoms.com about the pressures on operators in the roaming sector as well as opportunities in the mobile finance space. Al Mehyas also talks about his vision of integrating the mobile number with a variety of social services.
Singaporean operator StarHub has signed a deal with Vodafone, which will see its customers use mobile data services at more attractive rates when roaming to major European countries, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. With the new preferred rates, customers pay $25 for the first 20Mb of international data used on any particular day. Beyond this usage within the same day, roaming data access costs $3/Mb.
Orange’s new roaming tariffs, launched at the Mobile Wold Congress in Barcelona today, are a good example of the type of new approach operators need to take to stimulate use of mobile services while abroad.
Data traffic demand is growing rapidly in the wake of operator strategies to encourage mobile broadband adoption. As a result, the industry is talking about offload as a solution but one which takes many forms, leaving many operators unsure of which path to take. The business case for Wi-Fi is evolving, and not just for data offload but also voice and messaging, offering an opportunity for the deeper integration of Wi-Fi with the operator’s service portfolio. However, what are the issues and friction points that operators might envisage, and how might they be overcome?
Vodafone has been ordered to pay €400,000 ($528,000) to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) in Ireland for failing automatically apply a data roaming spend cap of €50.00 (€61.50, including VAT) to all data roaming customers who had not chosen to opt out of the data cap.