PREDICTION 3: THE END OF INTERNATIONAL ROAMING FEES
EU citizens will welcome the regulatory ruling that eliminates international roaming fees by mid-2017. This is not without a catch, however, since roaming providers have the right to enforce a “fair use policy” to safeguard against abusive excessive use of roaming. This means that users cannot continue to use their device while on vacation as they would at home. When roaming exceeds the pre-established fair use scenario, carriers will apply charges; but these charges cannot exceed the maximum rates that users pay for using public networks in other EU countries and zones.
In the US, all carriers have slashed their voice roaming offers significantly over the past year, driven initially by T-Mobile’s $0.20 per minute Simple Choice offering. Today, all carriers offer rates below 50 cents per minute for commonly traveled business destinations. More recently, carriers are including Mexico and Canada voice and data roaming as part of domestic access costs. International data roaming remains the greater international cost management challenge for US firms, particularly with Verizon and AT&T, as minimizing international data costs requires constant management of international data features. T-Mobile includes unlimited 2GB international data as part of its standard domestic plan offering. Sprint offers this as well, but their list of in-scope countries is significantly smaller than T-Mobile’s.
Though EU roaming fees are slated to be eliminated in 2017, we expect to see cheaper EU roaming rates as early as April 30, 2016. We expect all US carriers to further refine and reduce their international roaming offers in 2016 as they improve their roaming agreements with international carriers. The world is getting smaller and wireless roaming rates will finally start to reflect that in 2016.
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