There was agreement and disagreement about roaming in the recent Telecoms.com survey. Both the wider industry audience of 1,931 readers and the 600 respondents who work for operators agree that the mobile industry’s view that the market works along geographical lines is out of date. Between 40 and 50 percent agree with this concept. On the question of whether mobile operators are justified in charging more for roaming there was, not surprisingly, disagreement. 34 percent of the industry believes that there is no justification, against just 24 percent of operators.
Perhaps the most refreshing finding is that there is agreement on whether mobile operators are not sufficiently innovative in their roaming strategies. 37 percent of operators and 39 percent of the wider industry believes that there needs to be more innovation.
This roaming section of the report, sponsored by Value Based Charging evangelist Openet, re-enforces what we were saying a couple of weeks ago – that when it comes to roaming, things must change. To some extent, change will be forced upon the industry when the roaming regulations come into force in Europe next year, but there may well be innovation afoot earlier than that.
We know, and 71 percent of respondents to the survey agree, that customers who roam are more focused on cost than quality and we also know that a large percentage of them turn their data off as they board the plane. This, then, is a huge opportunity. Perhaps sensing the launch and marketing of innovative services, 44 percent of respondents thought that roaming revenue would grow as a result of the regulation. The majority (73.4 percent), however, thought that better customer satisfaction would be the main result.
The responses to the impact of regulation were all, surprisingly, positive, with 57 percent of respondents believing it heralds the arrival of new, specialist roaming service providers; 45.2 percent believing that we will see operators integrating roaming offers with other customer loyalty offers and 46.7 percent seeing the growth of ‘day passes’ and specialized data packages for roamers. Already there are new terms in the air, such as Local Service Break Out, which must mean change is on the way.
For a long time operators – in roaming as in mobile payments – have done nothing, with intent. Now, with the convergence of regulation and innovation, we will see change. Hopefully there is a full realization that we are at the point where encouraging customers to use data abroad must be more profitable and attractive than making them switch off.