Malaysian operator U Mobile has introduced a service that will enable its subscribers to use their existing U Mobile postpaid plan data allowance in 12 selected countries. Dubbed “U Mobile Data Backpack,” the service is available for postpaid customers on the P70, i90, i130, UD95 & UD135 plans and applies to both principal and member lines. The 12 countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.
If customers on U Mobile’s Data Backpack exceed their data allowances while they are in these 12 countries, they may purchase an additional 1.5 GB booster, valid for three days, for MYR 10 (US $2.55). For customers who do not qualify for U Mobile’s Data Backpack, the operator has also launched an enhanced roaming plan called “U Data Roam 10,” which enables customers to access unlimited data in the same 12 countries for MYR 10 per day.
With anti-roaming-surcharge sentiment on the rise in many if not most markets, operators need to be looking for more creative ways to provide services to customers who are traveling outside their home countries. Taking a generous approach, U Mobile is freeing its postpaid subscribers from any surcharge, as long as they stay within their normal data allotments. This offer should certainly be popular and help the operator with customer loyalty and retention, as well as encouraging customers to use data while spending time in those countries that are the most popular destinations for Malaysian travelers. In the most direct sense, it may cost the operator money in terms of termination fees. It is likely most advantageous for U Mobile to make it available only to those customers on postpaid plans, who pay higher fees for greater quantities of data. A silver lining for the operator in terms of revenue generation is the fact that customers may reach a certain comfort level with roaming data use and then find themselves wanting to go over their limits, at which point they will incur extra charges for the booster add-on. In addition, U Mobile’s offer of a daily rate to non-eligible customers may have the effect of motivating the more frequent travelers among that group to migrate from prepaid to postpaid and from budget-priced to higher-end plans.