EU roaming data traffic proves that it should be free everywhere

Image credit: Antonio Guillem /

Remember the long running skirmish between the EU and Vodafone (mainly) over implementing the data roaming rules? Remember Vodafone (mainly) saying that if the rules were implemented the drop in revenue would badly hinder its ability to invest in new infrastructure?

You might also remember our own view at the time which was ‘stop acting like big babies, understand that data traffic will sky rocket and you will be more than fine’.

Well a new, interim report has just revealed that roaming data traffic has increased five fold since the new regulation came in. The report shows that data roaming traffic hit 84.7 million GB in the third quarter last year – summer holiday time – and was still a robust 70.3 million GB in the first quarter of this year.

And before we get bamboozled by Vodafone (mainly) into believing that this just creates extra cost and burden on the infrastructure, remember something else we reported at the time.

Several years ago now there was a roaming conference. The main focus, not surprisingly, was this forthcoming regulation, which Vodafone (mainly) had managed to delay by about three years at that point.

There was a speaker at the conference from TripAdvisor. He was really quite upset at how short sighted the telco point of view on roaming was. Did they not realise, he said, that he would gladly pay the roaming charges so that his customers continued to use TripAdvisor when they were out and about in Paris? He hated the fact that his customers only felt they could use his service when tethered to the hotel WiFi.

Now he will be happy.

It is a classic example of telco thinking. Try and keep control, try and keep costs down and margins up and that way lies freedom. Except it doesn’t.

Make it free – make it global next (please) – and TripAdvisor and others will be able to partner with telcos to offer ever more creative services.

Of course, TripAdvisor is just one example. Games designers, music streamers, video players are all happy about roam like home.

Let us hope that telcos really are opening their doors and their minds to creative companies that want to partner to take advantage of this opportunity.

After all, at present rates there are about 300 million gigs of data a year waiting to be monetized.

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