T-Mobile Stops Charging for International Data Roaming
October 28, 2013
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
This month T-Mobile (News - Alert) took a shot at its mobile carrier competition and hit the telecom expense management industry in the process.
The mobile carrier recently announced that it is offering free international data roaming in more than 100 countries, a move that makes the company’s home data coverage area larger than either AT&T (News - Alert) or Verizon’s coverage map.
This, of course, was not necessarily good news for telecom expense management firms.
While there still is a strong value proposition for telecom expense management, which manages telecommunications costs and ensures that phone plans are what they should be, one big reason to use telecom expense management has been to limit the damage from international roaming.
The horror stories of the damage done from international roaming are legion, and that is why many savvy travelers are starting to look for SIM cards in the local market instead of using cellular access from their home providers when overseas.
For instance, one hapless employee traveling in Israel downloaded the first season of Seinfeld when he couldn’t find anything good on Israeli television. This was perhaps not his finest hour, however—the adventure in international roaming charges cost the company $175,000.
That’s why telecom expense management is now often used to both monitor and proactively limit such mistakes.
T-Mobile customers won’t have to worry about international data roaming any longer, however, and it has published a transparent flat-rate for international roaming telephone calls in line with what VoIP providers such as Skype (News - Alert) already offer.
"The cost of staying connected across borders is completely crazy," said John Legere in a statement, president and CEO of T-Mobile US. "Today's phones are designed to work around the world, but we're forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them. You can't leave the country without coming home to bill shock.”
There is no word yet from other carriers regarding whether they will follow suit and likewise ratchet down their international roaming fees.
One reason for international data roaming charges is that operators must partner with their local equivalents to offer service. But the high price also stems from operator inertia and the fat profits that come from international roaming.
With the T-Mobile announcement, though, such inertia could soon be a thing of the past. Until then, telecom expense management still is an essential part of every business with international travelers.