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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Roaming and the EU.... not far enough

Being an independent wireless analyst brings a different perspective on the industry. Unlike analysts working for larger firms, I pay my own cellular and WiFi charges - they don't just disappear into the maelstrom of a wider corporate IT & personal expenses budget.

Which means that I am acutely conscious of cellular roaming charges, and their complete disconnection from any form of reality. Despite pronouncements from the GSMA about "8% per year price cuts", and isolated tariffs like Vodafone Passport, typical charges bear little relation to the underlying costs of international voice traffic interconnection, as the success of myriad carrier-grade international VoIP services indicate.

Like many others, I now make a point of scheduling long calls when I'm abroad so that I can use WiFi or a hotel's fixed ethernet connection, with Skype or another VoIP client.

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.

I'd say it's also incumbent on some form of worldwide authority - the ITU or WTO - to follow the EU's lead on this.

It's just a pity that the EU's website is so opaque that I cannot easily find out where to add my comments to their ongoing consultation.....

2 comments:

Jan Michael Hess said...

Hi Dean,

I totally agree that international data roaming pricing is a joke. You can visit my blog and read the recent post on the pricing of Vodafone Germany. It goes up to €12.900 per GB if you dataroam in countries of group 3 (as defined by Vodafone).

I am working on a new project that tries to make Mobile Internet Access inexpensive - not only in one country but in many countries where we can make direct deals with a Host MNO.

Let me know if you want to know more about it.

Sam Critchley said...

Absolutely, roaming GPRS charges are a joke - €15 per MB every time I travel to the UK from home in the Netherlands!

I've now got an Orange UK prepay SIM and put it in one of my phones - you can get £1 per MB or unlimited browsing all day for £1 with them. It doesn't fix Belgium, France, Switzerland and the other countries I travel to regularly though...