Ensuring anytime, anywhere connectivity for travellers

Our mission is to provide consumers with clear and transparent pricing for mobile services when they travel internationally, along with the predictability and choice that mobile users expect.

The mobile market continues to grow, and consumers increasingly use their mobile devices while travelling.

Mobile operators around the world are committed to offering competitive, optimised roaming offers that provide valuable services to their travelling customers — while ensuring prices for roaming services are clear.

Roaming alliances in different regions and increasing competition from mobile and other providers continue to deliver price reductions — up to 90% in some cases — improving customer value and resulting in higher customer use of roaming services. New roaming bundles and standard tariffs are giving customers more choice, with daily, weekly, monthly or service-specific offers.

Revenues from international mobile roaming give operators the opportunity to invest in other mobile services and extend mobile broadband to the underserved — bringing the benefits of mobile to everyone and everything.

Current environment

Mobile operators that have a large regional presence increasingly offer low region-wide roaming rates similar to domestic tariff levels. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, for instance, mobile operators are encouraging their customers to roam rather than acquire local SIMs when they go abroad. This approach is becoming more common and shows competitive approaches in regions around the world.

Sub-regional and bilateral packages, as well as regional offers for tourists through reduced rates and monthly, weekly or daily roaming bundles, are also facilitating cross-border travel and trade.

Data services

Today there are many substitutes for roaming services and these continue to develop and grow. For example, Wi-Fi has grown as a strong substitute for an increasing number of customers and operators alike in domestic and roaming markets. This is driven by rapid growth in demand and congestion of mobile networks in some regions. There has been a strong push from manufacturers and service providers to increase the availability and penetration of Wi-Fi-enabled handsets. Today all major smartphone manufacturers include Wi-Fi capability in their handset portfolios, allowing consumers to use Wi-Fi hotspots at home and abroad.

Calling using a local SIM

Local SIMs have always been an important substitute for roaming services, particularly among regular visitors and migrant workers. Some Middle Eastern operators are building on the concept of a local SIM by offering a temporary local phone number that works in parallel with a user’s home number — without the need for an additional SIM.

Consumers in Asia Pacific are also making use of roaming substitutes. They have adopted SIM-based alternatives to international roaming across multiple regions. Call-by-call substitutes to roaming for corporate and business users are already having a significant impact on the roaming market in Asia. As the use of substitutes continues to rise, roaming prices will be reduced further. Certain substitutes may be more appropriate depending on national market conditions.

Operator transparency

The mobile industry is committed to customer protection. Operators continue to improve transparency to ensure consumers receive better value from their roaming services.

Easy access to personalised tariff and usage information allows consumers to quickly understand the range of options available in the market. Operators use several methods to ensure consumers are aware of the latest rates and offers, such as consumer-friendly websites and SMS messages welcoming roaming customers when they enter a country.

Within the EU, Gulf and other regions, comprehensive notification systems and informative websites have been developed to ensure consumers understand their usage. Data roaming services in these regions are managed according to regulation, competition and customer preferences, for example when a data usage limit is reached.

Many operators, particularly for the prepaid segment, offer customers the ability to top up with local cards while travelling abroad. This, in addition to easily accessible, free-of-charge customer support, gives prepaid customers the freedom to fully understand their roaming options and top up their credit at home or abroad.