The death of roaming fees in Europe: Bring it on!

The Telegraph is today reporting that roaming fees (for voice, text and data) will be abolished by the end of next year if not earlier.

About flipping time.

Almost half of people traveling abroad deliberately switch their phone off to avoid unexpected and often ridiculous roaming charges. In recent years, if you’ve spent enough time researching and talking to your mobile operator, it’s been possible to dramatically reduce your roaming fees to a more manageable level. But it hasn’t been routine — you typically have had to opt in, or make sure you’ve got the exact price plan to qualify.

It’ll be interesting to see how quickly the UK operators respond. If this is going to become law now, there might be a good short term opportunity to launch a massive branding campaign this summer telling consumers that roaming in Europe is now completely free until September. Something like that. It might be worth eating the short term revenue loss for a bit of brand equity, especially if the playing field is shortly about to be levelled completely.

EU officials expect 2% of operator revenues to be wiped out as a result of this move.

My view? Good.

Roaming has been ridiculous and punitive for far too long. Indeed, my blood boils when I recall some of the downright bollocks reasons I’ve heard from various operator executives over the years when trying to explain the high cost of roaming. One chap tried to tell myself and Ben Smith (MIR contributor and Editor of Wireless Worker) that they had to charge in the region of £4 per megabyte because they got all the usage data in Excel spreadsheets from their partners, which was costly to process. Yeah, rubbish.

If you’re working in the roaming department of a major operator, now might be the time to look at your CV and go for that stretch role that you recently turned down.

I’m excited to see how this move will influence market dynamics. Bring on the competition, eh? 😉

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