MTS Belarus has announced that its subscribers’ roaming data traffic use grew tenfold year-on-year this summer. The MNO attributed the surge to the launch of its Unlimited Abroad data roaming option. The amount of roaming calls dropped by 12 percent year-on-year and the amount of SMS sent using roaming services decreased by 21 percent.
The dramatic experience of MTS Belarus shows incontrovertibly that international data-roaming surcharges greatly inhibit the amount of data consumed. When the operator made an unlimited package available, data use increased by a factor of 10. This statistic vividly illustrates what we have already pointed out—that is, that while operators may cover their termination costs by charging surcharge fees, they also reduce the number of data users and the quantity of data use, in many cases by a great deal.
Choosing to price the roaming data lower and making money on package charges instead led, in this case, to much more usage of data. For any operator to which this happens, the results will be greater customer satisfaction, fuller utilization of the network, and stimulation of data consumption in general on the part of subscribers, which can redound in the future in terms of greater data consumption in general. We think this is win-win.
It is also worth noting that MTS customers were evidently content to use data in preference to voice and SMS, which are still subject to surcharge fees when used internationally. That illustrates not only a bottom-line-oriented choice, but also the fact that in today’s mobile universe, data is increasingly capable of performing the same functions as traditional voice and SMS.