Will mobile roaming charges be scrapped soon?

In a move that will be cheered by many European business customers, Orange has started the process of scrapping their roaming fees for customers using their phones overseas. The French company has started applying new tariffs for their customers in France, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Luxembourg with the changes rolling out gradually throughout 2014.

Customers of telcos like Orange that operate in many countries have long complained that when visiting a different region for business – or even a holiday – they are treated as non-customers and charged a very high roaming fee even though they can see their own telco operating in the region.

If Orange has now started applying these new rules to their customers in some European countries then it is likely they will need to extend the change to additional countries in their global network and other carriers will need to follow.

But it will hurt. Telcos need to focus on reducing the churn rate of their customers and this requires a strong focus on improving loyalty – keeping people with your service rather than a rival. If Orange is the only major European telco offering free roaming across Europe then that will be very a tempting reason for customers at rival firms to come and join Orange. The rivals will not want to wait long before matching the Orange offer.

Telcos are seeing challenges in many areas today. Text services such as Whatsapp are now carrying SMS messages within data plans, reducing the need for consumers to pay for text messages and now if one major company removes the concept of international roaming then others will need to follow – the market is too competitive and consumers too footloose to expect them to remain loyal to a supplier that cannot offer similar terms.

What would you like to see happen in the European telco sector, free roaming or some other changes? Leave a comment here or tweet me on @simondillsworth.

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Photo by Poppy licensed under Creative Commons

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