Missed Mobile World Congress this year? Luckily, many of the highlights have been captured for (digital) eternity – by Mobile World Live, the show’s dedicated broadcast channel. These highlights included a panel session on the EU’s ‘roam like at home’ policy, which featured BICS’ Mikael Schachne, VP Mobility Solutions. Alongside Schachne were Lycamobile CEO, Chris Tooley, and Kyle Dorcas, VP of Mobile Policy Management at Syniverse.
The EU’s ruling – which came into force in June last year – has been a huge success from a consumer standpoint, with BICS reporting an astounding 800% increase in roaming traffic in Europe in 2017, compared with the year previously. However, speaking on the panel session at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Schachne recognised: “From the mobile operator side it’s been a bit challenging, as they had to cope with a huge surge of traffic.”
In addition to supporting this increase, operators “had to keep providing very attractive rates within the EU, and unfortunately the traffic increase didn’t compensate for losses on the tariff side.”
From an MVNO perspective, said Lycamobile’s Tooley, success is “a work in progress.” He continued: “The MVNOs have been the engine of innovation in many parts and the engine of competition. We believe that for the MVNOs this legislation has been making their competitive position more difficult.”
Yet the success the policy has seen amongst consumers can be extended to the telecoms industry. How? By introducing “new solutions, and by increasing the awareness of new tariff plans, we can drive more use on the network and generate more revenue streams,” said Schachne. Syniverse’s Dorcas agreed, saying that, following the introduction of ‘roam like at home’ last summer, “we’re now at a stage where the operators are starting to adjust, and we’re going to course-correct a little so that we can make it a win-win for both sides.”
Making it a win-win will involve unlocking new roaming revenue streams, something BICS has pioneered with its Silent Roamers campaign. As Schachne explained at MWC, this involves “finding out where the subscribers are who are not yet taking the new tariff into account. Finding out about silent roamers is a way to generate additional revenue streams by proposing advanced packages to the end user.” These could include cheap data bundles and special offered tailored to an individual’s typical smartphone usage, engaging the end-user and giving them a compelling reason to turn on – and use – their phone abroad.
So, how have the changes within the EU impacted telcos’ and consumers’ perspectives on roaming charges on the global stage? Tooley believes that the policy has had a positive effect on other regions and has “woken up operators, MVNOs and consumers to the possibility that roaming charges that are $1.50 or $2 a minute can be a thing of the past.”
MWC, he continued was the perfect example – there were many visitors from within the EU enjoying low-cost roaming, yet the event also drew attention to the many non-EU delegates and exhibitors “paying huge roaming charges.” The solution? “It’s got to be the operators coming together and finding ways of providing much more cost-effective solutions for consumers.” World: take note!
Schachne neatly summarised this in a call-to-action to regulators: to look at the example set by the EU, and “to collaborate with mobile operators [on a global scale] and open a dialogue on how we can increase the usage of mobile connectivity. In the long run its good for the industry to enjoy a bill-shock-free environment, making sure every mobile user can enjoy their mobile anywhere they want, and at the end of the day, ensuring that mobile takes more importance in our everyday lives.”