The uptake of LTE services across the globe is gaining momentum. The Global mobile Suppliers Association’s (GSA) ‘Evolution to LTE Report’ released in September 2012 showed there are currently 96 commercial LTE networks in operation, set to grow to 152 by the end of the year. Devices with LTE support are coming out in a steady stream now, and while handset manufacturers and mobile operators work out the interoperability challenges, Far Eastern operators SK Korea and CSL Hong Kong have already announced the first international roaming agreement. International LTE roaming is coming.
Armed with smartphones and tablets, consumers are demanding constant connectivity and consistently high quality of service, anytime and anywhere, at home and abroad. As a result, roaming traffic is expected to grow rapidly. Will your roaming profits grow as well?
Indian operator Airtel, which operators in 20 markets across Africa and Asia has extended its One Network on-net charging policy to its Asian markets. The One Network policy of charging domestic rates to subscribers while on Airtel networks irrespective of country was already established in Africa. Airtel inherited the policy from Zain when it acquired Zain’s African portfolio in 2010.
An SMS sent out to O2UK subscribers this week indicates that the cost of making and receiving calls outside of the EU is set to rise dramatically. In some cases international call charges to the firm’s end users will more than double by the end of November.
Having developed models and published forecasts for some time I am often intrigued by the way people read information. For some reading and interpreting data is a simple task but for many of us it is an impenetrable mist punctuated by mysterious terms like multi-point regression, Gompertz and sigmoid functions. Within such an environment forecasting begins to live up to its reputation as a dark art.
In a recent interview request I was asked to comment on the demand from Indonesian Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring to remove roaming fees between ASEAN countries.
The focus was on two questions: Do you think it would be possible for Asean to become a free roaming region? And if so Why? And what steps need to be taken for Asean’s telcos to agree to a no roaming fee agreement?
Australia-based carrier services operation, Telstra Global, this week introduced an IP exchange (IPX) service to better help operators introduce enhanced roaming and richer mobile interconnect offerings.
You can’t deny a spectacular comeback when you see one, especially one as fast as Philipp Humm’s. After two less than fortunate years at the helm of T-Mobile USA, where he was responsible for engineering the failed merger with AT&T (although he did score $4bn in break up fees), Humm stepped down from his role, and less than 24 hours later was revealed as the new chief of Vodafone’s Northern & Central European operations.
Vodafone has launched a new roaming package for subscribers, ahead of the EU’s new legislation aimed at lowering roaming costs, which comes into force July 1. Vodafone’s UK pay-monthly customers, including business travellers on standard price plans, are now able to use their existing UK price plan for voice, text and mobile internet in Europe for £3 per day.
European regulation has become something of a poster child for legislators around the world with the overall character of regulation heavily influenced by the EU experience. This replication has manifested itself in the increasingly resolute attitude regulators are taking to roaming regulation around the globe.
The Indian Government has approved a new Telecoms Policy that does away with roaming within across the country and allows citizens to retain their phone number regardless of where they are in the country, without having to pay extra charges, contrary to current legislation.
European operators will face a challenging time ahead as Western Europe is overwhelmed by strict EU regulations, with the price of voice calls falling by 46 per cent and data roaming services cut from average costs of around $4 to just $0.26 by 2014.
The success of mobile communication within the African continent is a given, penetration has grown from just over 20 per cent to over 60 per cent in less than five years, but the region suffers some of the highest IOT rates in the world. These rates are now beginning to rise as European operators suffering under EU regulation pass on the pain of price capping and cuts hiking IOT rates for international partners.
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.
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.
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”.