Free data roaming – the next-generation offer in the data roaming space

by BICS | | 3 mins read

International travel restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for mobile network operators (MNOs) and virtual network operators (MVNOs) that have to contend with declining data roaming traffic.

Most operators have struggled in the past to activate ‘silent data roamers’ – those who are reluctant to turn on data roaming, even though reasonably priced packages are readily available. Still, the fear of being charged heavily for a few megabytes persists in the psyche of the international roamer, and so data roaming often remains turned off.

The roamer opts instead to confine their internet access to the hotel or purchase a local SIM card and go through the inconvenience of swapping SIMs and missing calls and texts on their primary SIM.

How can MNOs counteract this behavior and revitalize their roaming business by soon as the travel restrictions are lift up? The answer is seamless connectivity with free data roaming.

Offering data roaming to drive up data roaming revenues

MNos and MVNOs success will be all about psychological reassurance. By allowing data roaming at a low data speed at zero cost, MNOs can eliminate the fear that roamers have of turning on data roaming.

Subscribers will be encouraged to leave data roaming on if they feel secure that they will not be charged for their internet apps after they land or switch data roaming on. They will only have access to a limited set of capabilities – for example, sending Whatsapp messages, use a search engine, etc. – but they will get used to the concept of having access to data roaming.

A high-speed data pass offer at the right moment, typically a short time after the subscriber lands in the foreign country, will result in a much higher package uptake. Experience has shown that MNOs can expect package sales to triple compared to package sales where the subscriber has to jump from no access or high cost per megabyte to a package.

The increased package sales produce far more revenue than the costs incurred to offer free data roaming at, for example, 128 KBit/ second.

To implement this data roaming strategy, MNOs need:

  • Flexible data roaming policy control to give outbound subscribers exactly 128 KBit/ second using accurate GTP-u throttling when they land.
  • Configurable silent roamer and welcome campaigns to make subscribers aware of the free data roaming offer and promote the high-speed package to the subscriber at the perfect moment.
  • Data roaming package management to allow high-speed access for a certain length of time (one day, one week, and so on). Volume can be limited or unlimited per package.
  • Combinations of the above for different subscriber segments such as prepaid, postpaid, postpaid light, and VIP.
  • Real-time seamless subscriber portal that allows subscribers to buy and activate packages on-the-go.

This strategy can:

  • Substantially increase data roaming package sales and consequently data roaming revenue
  • Eliminate bill shock for both subscriber and MNO
  • Keep the subscriber using your SIM
  • Increase trust in your brand
  • Increase stickiness of the subscriber to your network

Maximize your data roaming revenue and optimize the data roaming experience with BICS Data Roaming Control.  Book a demo today.