Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Europe - Council highlighted the agreement of Council and Parliament on Roaming III Regulation

3169th Competitiveness Council meeting Brussels, 30 and 31 May 2012:
STRESSES the need to place consumers and businesses at the heart of the Single Market and to increase trust in the Digital Single Market and in this respect HIGHLIGHTS the new agreement on the Roaming III Regulation; SUPPORTS the improvement of the digital provision of information and guidance through Enterprise Europe, reinforcement of the European Consumers Centres-Network (ECC-Net) and the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network; LOOKS FORWARD TO the adoption by the Commission of a “European Consumer Agenda”; RECALLS the suggestion from the European Council and URGES the Commission to submit the new proposal on e-signature, e-identification and e-authentication by June 2012;
It formally adopted the agreement with parliament.

UK - Bill shock of over £2,000 from iPhone use in Turkey

The Guardian reports a case of bill shock from a UK-based customer leaving the EU.
On a week-long trip to Istanbul in early May, Alexandra Xanthaki used her iPhone all the time to navigate the notoriously congested, confusing streets looking for restaurants. But on returning to London, the magic wore off when T-Mobile sent her a bill for £2,318 – and warned that another £300 would be added to her next bill, too.

MACH - support for operators to reduce data traffic and thus their wholesale costs for roaming

Mach, via MarketWatch, announced the launch of its new Data Optimization solution, which significantly lowers the cost of delivering data roaming and domestic services to subscribers for mobile network operators and MVNOs. Using sophisticated downlink data optimization technology, MACH's solution can enable reductions of up to 70% on downstream data usage of smartphones. This minimises the wholesale cost of providing data roaming for operators and for MVNOs who have to purchase their wholesale data from host mobile network operators, and tackles bandwidth issues, allowing operators to improve profitably and offer more competitive and disruptive offerings.

Lokdeep Singh, Chief Technology Officer, MACH, commented: "

MACH continues to innovate in order to help network operators find new ways of monetizing mobile data while tackling the challenges posed by increased data usage. While some data optimization and compression technologies are complex and difficult to deploy, MACH's Managed Service Delivery Platform architecture means that network operators can take an effective solution to market extremely rapidly. By reducing roaming data costs, operators can improve bottom-line profitability, or pass on savings to customers, thereby increasing competitiveness and end-user satisfaction and lowering the risk of 'Bill Shock' scenarios.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eduroam - Celebration of a decade of operation, providing seamless roaming to universities

Since its launch ten years ago Eduroam has spread to over 50 countries, including more than 5,000 locations in Europe, where researchers, students and teachers with eduroam credentials can securely access the Internet while away from their home institution.
Today’s research and education community is increasingly mobile, and depends on technology and the Internet to collaborate and communicate. eduroam was created to meet these needs. Without the need to register for guest accounts or remember extra passwords, users can simply open their laptops or activate their mobile devices, and eduroam automatically authenticates them with their home institution and handles authorisation via the institution they are visiting. This not only benefits researchers, teachers and students, but reduces the support burden for institutions themselves, making it simple to provide access for visiting users without adding to their administrative workload.

iBasis - Launch of a hub for LTE international roaming across different vendors and operators

iBasis has announced the launch of an LTE Signaling Exchange(TM) (LSX(TM)), to enable allow mobile network operators to connect to hundreds of other operators through a single point of interconnection, ensure LTE Roaming interoperability across multiple vendors.
Demand for the LSX is a result of the disruptive nature of LTE and the evolution from traditional SS7 (MAP) signaling to IP-based Diameter signaling. The iBasis LSX runs on iBasis' IPX network, a multiservice, global IP network that delivers high quality voice and data services for mobile operators.

The iBasis LSX reduces complexity and cost while ensuring high quality of service for roaming customers. The LSX allows MNOs to connect to hundreds of downstream operators through a single interconnect and normalizes messages to enable interoperability on behalf of each roaming partner. It also interworks with existing SS7 networks.

iBasis is a subsidiary of KPN.

UK - Boy band told to rein in phone use after bills for £14,000 in Australia and USA

The Scottish Daily Record reports that:
ONE Direction have been given a lecture on finances – after running up mobile phone bills totalling £14,000.

Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Niall Horan amassed the whopping charges during the boy band’s recent tours of North America and Australia.

The X Factor stars racked up bills of more than £2500 each using Twitter, Facebook and the iPhone app Draw Something – as well as phoning and texting family and friends back home.

And when record label bosses confronted them about their not-so-smart use of their smartphones, it turned out the lads were clueless about roaming fees.

They have been told off and will, apparently, be restraining their use of phones and social media in future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Global roaming revenues - Estimate they will reach USD 45.1 Billion in 2012

Virtual Strategy reports that Visiongain estimates global roaming revenues will reach USD 45.1 Billion in 2012.

As governments cap roaming tariffs it threatens this lucrative service. Operators must cope with this and with changes from the growth of LTE.

In order to monetise roaming services, new business models are required. The explosion in smartphone and tablet adoption, coupled with exponential growth in social media and digital entertainment have created a clear case for leveraging data use to restore revenue streams and consumer satisfaction in a post ‘bill shock’ marketplace.

MACH - System to support operators reduce costs for data roaming

MACH, a long term supplier of services to mobile roaming operators, has launched a Data Optimization solution:
which significantly lowers the cost of delivering data roaming and domestic services to subscribers for mobile network operators and MVNOs. Using sophisticated downlink data optimization technology, MACH's solution can enable reductions of up to 70% on downstream data usage of smartphones. This minimises the wholesale cost of providing data roaming for operators and for MVNOs who have to purchase their wholesale data from host mobile network operators, and tackles bandwidth issues, allowing operators to improve profitably and offer more competitive and disruptive offerings.
Not requiring a client on the handset, it is transparent to the end-user and simple for operators to deploy.

EUFA 2012 - Visitors to Ukraine face potentially very high roaming charges because it is beyond the EU Roaming Regulation

Metro warns UK fans attending the football competition in Ukraine are outwith the scope of the EU Roaming Regulation and thus at risk of high charges.
Phone conversations with friends and family back home could cost up to £1.79 per minute, compared to 35p in neighbouring co-host Poland.

Supporters also face paying £6.10 per 1MB of data when using their phones to stream videos, browse the web and email, says.

Virgin Atlantic - A limited in-flight roaming service with "usual" roaming charges

The BBC reports that Virgin Atlantic is offering roaming on its planes.

Access is provided by AeroMobile, and only customers of European carriers Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile will be able to make calls.

Virgin Atlantic's chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said:

Many people will have experienced that moment when you're about to take off on a 10-hour flight and you need to send an important message to the office, or even reminding a family member to feed the cat

It's also quite fun to call home and say, 'Guess where I am' - not many people would think you're travelling at 35,000ft above the Atlantic Ocean.

The FCC bans the use of mobile phones on aeroplanes, so passengers will not be allowed to make calls when approaching US airspace.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Does the 3rd Roaming Regulation open the way to US heavyweights in the roaming market?

PC Pro raises the question of whether the Third Roaming Regulation would enable Apple and Google to become suppliers of data roaming services within the EU.

Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa Telecoms and Media, was quoted as saying:

Roaming is an extremely complex business and there will need to be new investment in mobile networks to allow new players to provide roaming services ... The cost of these network upgrades and the mechanisms by which these new players are allowed into the market have yet to be agreed.

Apple and Google may be tempted into the market... smartphone vendors are constantly looking to develop new services, features and functionality that allow them to keep up their prices and to differentiate themselves from their competitors ... Offering their users a data plan – via an app store – that allows them to use their favourite services while abroad at a much lower price than that offered by their home network would clearly be an attractive proposition.

UK - Consumer Focus welcomed the new Roaming Regulation, but called for bill shock protection at home

Consumer Focus (UK) welcomed the EU's Third Roaming Regulation.

Marzena Lipman, policy manager at Consumer Focus said:

The last thing people want when they come back relaxed from their holiday is to be shocked by the size of their mobile bill. So further cuts to the charges phone companies can impose on their customers when travelling in Europe, are very welcome. The data-roaming caps are particularly good news, as data-use can incur some of the biggest and most unexpected bills for consumers.

However it is unfair that customers using their phones at home in the UK do not have a similar level of protection. We’d like to see this gap in protection closed voluntarily by mobile phone providers or for the regulator to tackle this issue.

Which? took a similarly positive view.

Roaming - Caps on prices with a threat of further regulation after 2016, if surcharges do not disappear

The Guardian reported on the vote of the European Parliament on the third roaming regulation.
The cuts are the latest step towards a European commission goal of reducing the gap between domestic and foreign call rates to virtually nothing by 2015.
Peter Skinner, Labour MEP for South East England, said:
If roaming prices have not come all the way down to domestic levels by 2016, then the European commission will be obliged to propose additional legislation to ensure that roaming charges are identical to domestic prices.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

European Commission - Welcomes the adoption of the Third Roaming Regulation by European Parliament

Neelie Kroes welcomed the vote in favour of the compromise on the Third Roaming Regulation by the plenary of the European Parliament.
People expect to use their phones wherever they go. Especially across internal borders that are supposed to have disappeared. And better smartphones, tablets and online content mean a boom in mobile data.

In that context, high roaming charges are an irritant for citizens, and an obstacle to the Single Market. People are fed up with nasty surprises when they open their bill. Today we can put an end to them once and for all—for voice, for text, and for data. And show how the EU protects citizens' interests.

First, we now have a "future-proof" solution. Injecting competition into roaming markets will mean, for the first time ever, a structural, sustainable way to protect consumers.

Because competition is the best guarantee of long-term low prices.

Under the new rules, mobile users are empowered to pick the roaming provider right for their travel needs, separately from their domestic provider; while companies will be able to compete through innovative services.

See the Memo for further details.

European Parliament - Massive vote in favour of the third Roaming Regulation to take effect 1 July 2012

The European Parliament in a mini-plenary in Brussels voted 578 votes in favour, with 10 against and 10 abstentions to adopt the report on the Third Roaming Regulation.

Angelika Niebler (EPP, DE) and rapporteur said:

Using mobile devices abroad remains expensive. During the summer holidays, our citizens will be able to take advantage of more favourable tariffs. Parliament has succeeded in its call for cheaper roaming prices for consumers, and in particular for data roaming. In addition, from July 2014, consumers will be able to choose an operator other than their national operator for roaming services. The new rules will also help to open up the market to new entrants and so increase competition

The proposal enters into force on 1 July 2012, replacing the 2007 regulation as amended in 2009, which expires on 30th June 2012.

Retail ceilings (charged to consumers) excluding VAT


1 July 2012

1 July 2013

1 July 2014

Data (per megabyte)


70 cents

45 cents

20 cents

Phone calls made (per minute)

35 cents

29 cents

23 cents

19 cents

Phone calls received (per minute)

11 cents

8 cents

7 cents

5 cents

SMS (per SMS)

11 cents

9 cents

8 cents

6 cents

Wholesale ceilings (charged between operators) excluding VAT


1 July 2012

1 July 2013

1 July 2014

Data (per megabyte)

50 cents

25 cents

15 cents

5 cents

Phone calls (per minute)

18 cents

14 cents

10 cents

5 cents

SMS (per SMS)

4 cents

3 cents

2 cents

2 cents

Monday, May 7, 2012

South Africa - The shocking bills from data roaming generated by smartphones and tablets

The Daily News report problems with roaming bills for South Africans.

It gives the example of Allan Bartram, CEO of a Kempton Park-based business and a regular foreign traveller. Ten days after his return from abroad his bill, normally in the region of ZAR 1,200 a month, was ZAR 10,500. He complains:

While overseas I had downloaded data I usually download at home – financial and forex info, weather and news – and I left the apps on.

It’s not a problem at home, because the downloads are free, but overseas it’s a bill killer, as I’ve discovered on talking to friends and colleagues.

Surely they [the operator] could send an inexpensive SMS to those people who have gone overseas with these smartphones and quickly start racking up an inconsistently high bill, in the way that we get a call from our banks when they pick up unusual spending behaviour on our accounts?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thailand - Regulator has expressed concern about cases of bill shock from roaming charges

The Bangkok Post reports that the Thai regulator, the NBTC, has produced a booklet on international mobile roaming charges for Thais going abroad.

Commissioner Dr Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said:

We expect to see more than 100 complaints this year