GSMA pledges end to data roaming bill shock
But prices still high for Asian biz travellers
Mobile industry body the GSMA reckons it has come up with a plan which should help international business travellers avoid bill shock and better understand their data usage.
At a meeting in Shanghai this week, the organisation cracked together the heads of 24 major global operators including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, China Mobile and Unicom and KT Corporation.
The result is an agreement to make roaming more transparent for punters.
Measures agreed by operators include sending users a text when they arrive in a foreign country to remind them of data roaming tariffs, and enabling a monthly data roaming spending limit to be set - although there's no info on who decides what this upper limit should be.
Operators have also agreed to text users when they’re approaching their spending limit and to suspend the data service temporarily when the limit has been exceeded.
The GSMA says the operators will roll out the measures by the end of the year to cover over four billion global connections, and that it will identify those that have complied with a trust mark.
GSMA chairman Franco Bernabè said that many operators had already implemented the measures.
“The initiative announced today will help to promote an even broader adoption of principles that will offer a more transparent and uniform experience for billions of consumers, wherever they travel,” he added in a canned statement.
Data roaming charges are being tackled by the European Union, which has already managed to slash voice costs for travellers across the region and will introduce a cap on data charges from 1 July.
However, prices remain high in Asia, where there is no region-wide political institution to bash heads together.
Analysts were pretty pessimistic about that situation changing any time soon.
“This initiative will help to prevent ‘bill shock’, which is increasingly attracting the attention of regulators. It is wise of the industry to address this matter voluntarily,” said Ovum principal analyst David Kennedy.
“But by itself, it won’t lead to lower prices. The customer has little bargaining power against mobile operators in the roaming market.”
IDC’s Alex Chau told The Reg that the new rules could even be a nuisance to business travellers.
“Many users will not like it because the worst case scenario is been cut off while waiting for a crucial call or email,” he argued. ®
Right, so nothing so useful as, say, actually curbing the ludicrous prices charged for roaming data? With some of these clowns it'd be cheaper to carry TCP over SMS than use their roaming data services.
But hey, now you have no excuse to say you didn't know, right? "I didn't read the text - I just deleted it" doesn't quite cut it. If they tell you a billion times and you just won't listen and rack up a bill anyway, then you have no recourse really. But then again, it's because of people who delete and don't read why you get the added restriction of... how much was it? 50 euros? roaming cost cap too.
Thank the many people who don't bother reading or doing any research and who, unlike some of us, aren't OCD at all - not even a little bit. I personally welcome such restrictions, because in the end it's these people who I hear complain when their bills skyrocket, and that's a ton more annoying than receiving a bunch of texts while roaming. Most of them would probably go crying to their OCD friends and relatives and ask them for help (of course they get offended when they get told off too).
July 1st is arriving next week, data roaming prices (for europeans) will be reduced to 0,70€ + 20% VAT = 0,84 per MB
This is still way too expensive, but some solutions emerge with a new form: mobile hotspot rental.
You rent from a provider a small device that connects to the internet using 3G, but you do not have to worry about this part. All you have to do is connect to the wifi signal and surf. Prices can be radically different.
For France, compare the 11 to 16€ per MB an american pays, to the 0,06 to 0,14€ per MB the French provider: FrenchConnection.fr offers
When choosing a provider check:
- Price per day
- How many many MB included each day
- Can I report unused MB to the next day
- How much am I charged if I go over my allotment
- Where is the provider's support team based. In case of a problem, only the local ones can react quickly!