The EU parliament has said that they plan to have eliminated roaming charges within the European Union by Christmas this year, but will that be a good thing?
We’ve all seen the examples of #billshock (forgive the hashtag – please!) as they’ve been splashed over the media, whether it was the downloading of a Neil Diamond album when on holiday or simply the kids talking to their friends on BBM, Facebook or whichever other social media tool is fashionable at the time.
We’ve also seen the estimated cost to the mobile operators if this goes through (Vodafone expects to lose £1 billion next year alone) and the increases in charges that have been made by all the major mobile operators.
The question is who will win this financial battle?
These are our opinions:
- There will still be stories about billshock, except they will be when the kids are at Disneyland in Florida instead of Paris. The media loves to be able to attack any company that makes what it believes to be excessive profits and the mobile operators will continue to be in their sights. They’ll just find different ammunition. There will continue to be people who forget to set up World Traveller (or similar) before they go abroad and get hit with excess charges.
- The daily cost of using your consumer bundle overseas will increase. Most UK consumers, when travelling outside of the EU, use this type of package and so the profits here will actually increase for the mobile operators.
- The really painful price increases will come for business users. Perhaps a little cynical, but is this because their phone bills don’t make headlines even if billshock occurs? O2 already charges business users £120 for 2Gb (as a bolt-on – it’s £6 per MB otherwise!) outside the EU; how much will that increase by?
- The mobile operators will continue to moan about their inability to invest in improving the networks if EU roaming charges are removed at the end of this year.
- More businesses will look for solutions to manage the costs of international communication. This will vary from enterprise level solutions such as Microsoft Lync through Skype through to apps such as ours.
In the grand scheme of things, there will be a blip in the profits of the mobile operators, but they will find other ways to recoup it.
We’d love to know your thoughts