Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hungarian Data Roaming Doubles After End of Surcharges

The number of Hungarians who use mobile internet abroad since the elimination of roaming fees in the EU on 15 June 2017 has nearly doubled compared to when the fees still applied, according to a research study whose results have just been published. Some 900,000 people used data roaming when the study was conducted in October 2017. In addition to that, nearly 2.5 million Hungarian subscribers used roaming for making or receiving calls and 1.8 million used it for texting.
More than a third (37 percent) of respondents reported using mobile data in another EU country since the scrapping of fees. Not only has the number of data roamers grown, but they also go online abroad more often since they need to rely less on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Of all respondents who reported using roaming for voice calls, 12 percent had never done so before the policy change. Seven percent of respondents reported that they took up texting after the change.
Mobile operators had long opposed the European Commission’s plans to ban surcharges for roaming usage. When the ban finally went through, after much debate and many reversals, there was serious concern in the industry about loss of revenue. Now that some time has passed in which to assess the actual impact of the policy change, studies such as this one in Hungary can provide some perspective on the matter.
Among Hungarian mobile subscribers, within just four months of the end of the surcharges, the study at hand recorded a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of who used data while traveling in EU countries. It is certainly reasonable to expect that that number has grown significantly by now. And as the study pointed out, not only the number of roaming-data users but the amount of data consumed per user has likely also increased.
As a result, Hungarian MNOs have seen and will continue to see major growth in mobile data usage among Hungarian travelers in the EU. As a trend, this is encouraging, though whether it will fully offset the loss of roaming-surcharge revenue is not currently possible to tell.

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