Last month, May 2012, EU parliament (27 member countries) voted to put caps on mobile data roaming charges, a move which is viewed as good news for consumer and bad for operators!
What does it mean? Instead of paying today max 70 euro cents per MB (approx 90 USD cents per MB) will it be 20 euro cents per MB in 2014. At first sight this sounds like a great deal and off course as a consumer this move is welcomed.
Let’s do the math
What this means for EU data roaming charges is that instead of operators charging today Euro 700 per GB they will have to live with only Euro 200 per GB! Will this really change consumer behavior from turning off data roaming within EU zone?
A 2 hours HD movie on iPAD on a roaming network within EU can cost over Euro 200 in 2014. Whereas EU domestic mobile date charges today is less than 10 Euros per GB and by 2014 it will most likely be less than 5 Euros per GB. Thanks to another EU data roaming rule which counters data roaming bill shock. By default data roaming will be automatically set at Euro 50 (unless user have chosen another limit which can be higher or lower).
What can be done?
One way to address mobile data roaming is to unbundle user’s mobile data service from his/her home mobile operator. In this concept users on the fly able should be able to subscribe and unsubscribe to any operator of his/her choice via internet, SMS or Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Mobile data would breakout locally and billing relation could be tied to user’s bank account or debit/credit card or even with his/her home mobile operator billing system.
One could take this concept to the next level by unbundling or disassociating user’s SIM relationship from his/her home mobile operator when traveling aboard. This would address the horrendous mobile voice and data roaming charges however this will require mobile operators to associate each mobile number with email-id/realm-id and data service (optional). We can learn from over-the-top service like Apple’s FaceTime and from the Verizon Wireless/Skype deal where terminating Skype call is not over mobile data session but as normal mobile voice with high quality (circuit switch for now).
- Verizon Wireless and Skype join forces to create a global mobile calling community http://about.skype.com/press/2010/02/verizon.html
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