Thirty-one percent of respondents said they used mobile internet as much abroad as at home since 15 June, compared to 15 percent of those who traveled in the EU before the changes took effect. The number who do not use mobile data abroad fell to 21 percent from 42 percent. More than twice as many also made calls abroad (24 percent versus 11 percent.)
However, 60 percent of those who traveled after 15 June said they made an effort to either turn off their phones, turn off data roaming or buy an alternative SIM card or roaming package. Of those who traveled before 15 June, the figure was 66 percent.
After all the hoopla attending the debate over roaming charges within the EU and the eventual, long-awaited abolition of such charges, one would imagine that European mobile users would be reveling in their new-found freedom to “roam like at home.” And yet as this survey shows, significantly more than half of travelers are still acting as if there were a reason to avoid using mobile services, especially data. Considering the small physical footprints of most EU states and the frequency with which EU residents cross borders, this is a serious issue.
While mobile operators generally opposed the end to roaming charges on the grounds that they were a rich source of revenue, non-utilization of services cannot be good for operators. If the surcharges were in fact keeping subscribers from using services, ending those charges should eventually have a positive effect on revenue.
However, it is clear that user behavior has lagged behind changing realities, most likely for no other reason than that old habits die hard. Since this usage pattern represents a shortfall in both revenue and network utilization, it should be addressed aggressively. MNOs should be thinking creatively about how to raise awareness and publicize the advantages of roaming. And if information alone is not enough (and it may not be, given that the vast majority of users say they know that the surcharges have ended), then something more may be necessary. Operators may wish to consider promotions offering incentives to those who keep their data switched on while traveling abroad.
Another thing that operators could do, which does fall under the heading of providing information, is to make clear to users that the service caps that are in place under the new regulations are not set at a level that would interfere with ordinary use, especially during short-term travel. Since users are often unaware of their usage levels per unit time, a clear explanation could help in this regard.
Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com