A report from Irish mobile operator Three shows that 37 percent of smartphone users in the country are using more mobile data while traveling in the EU, one year after the EU introduced new “roam like home” rules abolishing most roaming surcharges.
The report also states that among Irish smartphone users, Facebook remains the most popular app. Sixty-seven percent of these users says they believe the devices help them communicate more with friends and family, and 51 percent believe they make people safer. The report shows that 71 percent of respondents trust mobile security for banking and bill payment apps, and 55 percent value the use of smartphones to make cashless payments.
Back when the EC was debating the issue of roaming surcharges amid widespread user dissatisfaction, operators were expressing serious concerns about the impact of a rule change on their bottom line. If surcharges were abolished, connectivity revenue would go down, they argued, because operators would be paying termination fees while charging lesser amounts for service.
While the logic of that argument is clear, it ignores the potential positive effect of increased data usage on the equation, in that event that “roam like home” actually stimulated it to a sufficient degree.
If a substantial percentage (well over one third) of Irish smartphone users are consuming more data while roaming in the EU as against last year, that is a good indicator that at least in this market, roam like home has brought about a significant uptick in data use. And while we do not know Three’s exact revenue and cost amounts, it is likely that in terms of a trend, the end of EU roaming surcharges will eventually be a net positive for the operator, as for many others in the EU.
The other findings of the report—about the prominence of Facebook and the widespread customer endorsement of mobile banking and payment services—confirm what is already well known among operators, but as far as the roaming data use finding is concerned, we believe that it points toward a future in which operators in all markets embrace cellular “open borders” and capitalize on the ever-increasing interest of travelers in accessing high-speed data wherever they may be, and in large quantities. And in areas where surcharges still exist, offering generous roaming-data packages is a very good way to go, for the present time.