Abolish roaming charges now – why wait?

Written by on November 4, 2015 in Opinion with 1 Comment

Group Of Young Friends Enjoying Meal In Outdoor RestaurantWe have been on our soapbox about roaming charges for a couple of years now. We thought, even two years ago, that we had reached a tipping point. We thought the number of customers that would leave data turned on if they knew they were not going to find a huge bill back home outweighed any advantage to keep gouging (surely ‘charging, Ed) for the pleasure of being abroad.

We watched the boxing match between Neelie Kroes and Vodafone with a sort of world weary amusement. She, if you remember, drew a line in the sand. By 2015, she said, there will be no data roaming charges in Europe. Vodafone executives went to Brussels, and by a complete coincidence (not) the date was pushed back to 2017. This was recently agreed by the European Commission.

The thing is that while the likes of Vodafone (other operators are available) mutter about margins and investment being strangled, the Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are crying out for them to abolish roaming charges, or at least partner with them.

Expedia, TripAdvisor and Booking.com all hate it when their customers turn their data off when they land at their holiday destination. If their customers are limited to looking at their site while on the hotel Wi-Fi, they are not using a large part of the functionality. People want to find a well recommended restaurant while sipping something crisp, cold and white. They don’t want to have to go back to the hotel, or take pot luck.

Now, research shows that $96 billion of travel and holiday related purchases were made via mobile devices last year. That is 12.5 percent of global online travel sales. The market will grow at an annual compound growth rate of 22 percent for the next five years.

Now, of course, with beacon technology, and more and more (and hopefully better and better) personalised information to use, deals, offers and recommendations can be ‘pinged’ to customers when they really want them.

Leaving aside for the moment whether anyone is actually able to deliver those personalised deals, there is absolutely no reason to wait for regulatory deadlines to abolish roaming charges.

Stop data roaming charges now, and watch what happens to your revenues. Forbes are launching with just that deal – and they, and others – will see the benefits first.

Ah, a little bistro down on the water, thank you, Forbes and TripAdvisor.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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  1. Dominic Smith says:

    The irony is that whilst the Vodafone’s of the world have the most to lose in terms of retail roaming revenues (hence the delaying tactics), they are also the ones best placed to implement this as they already have operations and affiliates in lots of countries across Europe. So spare a thought for the smaller or independent CSPs who don’t have a Europe-wide footprint, who will have to re-negotiate wholesale agreements with the Tier 1s and probably end up having to pay a premium for the privilege.

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