Roaming surges across Asia – and about time too

Image credit: GaudiLab /

We were right, according to new research from communications enabler BICS, at least when it comes to roaming and specifically curbing roaming charges.

Sometimes you look at regulations – in this case around roaming – and you watch in disbelief as telecoms operators put pressure on regulators to keep high tariffs in place.

Operators (Vodafone the most strident in Europe) were trying to convince regulators that if they were forced to reduce roaming charges they would be unable to maintain the levels of investment in networks and would be in bad shape.

Thankfully the Regulator finally found its backbone and set a date to stop this nonsense.

We, along with (a couple of) other commentators, argued that reducing roaming charges would increase traffic, app usage and customer confidence and that they would be far better off than if they kept up the defensive story.

It would, we said, trigger a new wave of innovation.

We were not alone. Applications like TripAdvisor were crying out for abolishing roaming charges and were happy to pay the charges themselves. They wanted their users to use their app out and about in overseas cities and not switch off mobile data.

It turns out that the increase in roaming is huge. Across Asia Pacific roaming ‘surged’ by 245% in just 12 months. This includes figures for roaming inbound and outbound between Asia Pac and Europe and the Middle East. Both were up by around 80% on this time last year.

To be fair the increases are not just because consumers are using their devices while abroad (although that is a significant factor) it is partly because of the increase in IoT devices attached to cars, truck, ships and so on travelling across borders.

In fact it was this use case that made such a mockery of the arguments for maintaining high tariffs. What, went the argument, would happen if you drove your connected car across a continent? While you the driver would be being gouged for roaming, presumably your car would not.

In any case, high roaming charges were a pantomime at the best of times and thank goodness regulators held fast.

But 245% increase just emphasises the point.

Long may low tariffs and high innovation continue.

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