There has been a great deal of discussion about roaming charges following the EU proposals this week – you can read my original article on the subject here.
The debate has focused on charges for voice calls. However, there have also been several analysts who have highlighted an even greater problem with data roaming costs. Jan Michael Hess at mobiliser.org writes: “Vodafone International XXL offers you 100 MB for €87,00 or 1GB for €870. This is funny: If you are a Vodafone Germany customer you get 1GB for roughly €10 inside Germany and you pay €870 for 1GB if you roam into other Vodafone countries. ”
You can read the full article at http://www.mobiliser.org/article?id=91
Dean Bubley at Disruptive Analysis also offers some views on this issue: “It’s a real pity that the EU’s new & otherwise laudable proposals on roaming do not also include recommendations on data roaming, which is possibly the most egregiously-priced communications service on the planet, often overpriced by between 10x and 1000x sensible rates. In some cases, it’s cheaper to use satellite data downlinks than GPRS or WCDMA roaming.”
Read Dean’s post here.
I re-iterate my view that mobile operators are doing themselves a huge disservice with this issue. Market conditions are changing around them and they will be forced into a reactive, fire-fighting position if they don’t move quickly to take the initiative. There is mounting regulatory pressure, an increasing number of alternatives – such as wireless voice-over-IP – and widespread consumer dissatisafction. That is an extremely dangerous combination when an estimated 15 percent of annual revenue is at stake.
The industry needs clear pricing, a high-profile public awareness campaign and tariffs which encourage usage rather than leave consumers with a sense of uncertaintity and fear over using their mobile outside their home country.