Two-thirds of people who have been on holiday abroad this year and have an Internet-enabled phone (67 percent) did not use data services when holidaying abroad this summer, according to YouGov research commissioned by Openet (http://www.openet.com/).
The survey of UK holidaymakers found that there is a huge untapped opportunity for mobile operators to deliver data services to subscribers roaming abroad, but only if operators can get their pricing right and consumers feel in control of their data services.
While new EU Data Roaming Regulations (http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/620) will play a significant role in keeping down data roaming charges, the survey indicates that there is room for mobile operators to drive roaming subscriber data usage.
Commissioned by Openet, a provider of Transactional Intelligence solutions for the world's largest and most innovative service providers, key findings of the survey of UK Internet-enabled mobile phone users who have holidayed abroad in 2009 include:
* 67 percent of respondents chose not to use data roaming at all when they were abroad, with only 8 percent using data services at least once a day.
* 64 percent of respondents said they would prefer to be informed of roaming charges by SMS when they first arrive in the country.
* For the most popular data services used abroad this year (e-mail, 19 percent; browsing the Internet, 14 percent; social networking applications, 9 percent), one-off SMS notifications do not provide adequate protection to bill-shock. These popular services consume widely differing amounts of data which is hard for consumers to track themselves. For example, a SMS notification does not advise consumers on their actual costs of browsing the Internet or downloading a TV-show when roaming.
"Next year could be a very different situation. The EU Data Roaming regulations coming into effect on 1 March, 2010 will give subscribers much better bill shock protection. But that's only part of a solution to getting high-end phones out of the suitcases," said Mike Manzo, CMO of Openet. "These EU mandated controls mean operators have an opportunity to take both the moral high ground by making it easier for customers to avoid bill shocks. Operators should encourage users to use their smart phones and dongles when abroad, by doing a better job of selling roaming data bundles, not just before they leave home, but also when they start using their service abroad. This will give subscribers certainty as to their costs and comfort in using their service."
Central to avoiding 'bill shock' is timely communication of usage information. Operators and subscribers can configure spend thresholds which trigger notifications to be sent in the appropriate format for the customer and the service they are using. Openet works with operators to comply with EU Data Roaming regulations and implement flexible roaming bundles. Helping them to manage monetary balances in real time, so that whenever a specified threshold is reached, spend alerts can be sent, and usage restrictions applied, with configurable options to override a limit. This combined with the opportunity to offer roaming bundles to cover usage by application, service or for set time periods prior to leaving and when people abroad.
More information on Openet's subscriber control solutions is available at: http://www.openet.com/solutions/fixed-and-mobile/subscriber-controls.html.
About the Survey
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc (http://www.yougov.com/frontpage/home). Total sample size was 2,175 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25-27 August 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).