Mobile data has transformed the life of people throughout the world. Subscribers value the instant access to information offered by mobile operators and are willing to pay for data services that help them navigate their social and physical surroundings.
However, providing mobile data services to subscribers roaming in foreign networks represents a challenge. Data rates are significantly higher when roaming, and the home operator cannot control these rates as they are largely a result of fees paid to the visited operator.
Furthermore, subscribers often have a limited insight into their bandwidth consumption. While roaming subscribers often value the access to information even higher than at home, they are at risk of incurring large costs for their mobile data use. A subscriber that uses high-bandwidth services such as streaming video can easily spend thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes.
In response to this, many subscribers simply choose to turn off mobile data on their devices when roaming abroad. Operators that Symsoft work with report that more than 70% of subscribers turn off mobile data altogether when roaming, and many of those that leave it on use it to a minimal extent.
Many subscribers are interested in using mobile data services to some extent while abroad. The home operator can offer a service with superior coverage and better accessibility compared to foreign providers of Wi-Fi connectivity. Still, the latter option is often chosen by subscribers to maintain control of costs. This represents a considerable loss of revenue.
Designing DATA offers for Roaming Subscribers
This means that there is an opportunity for operators to capture more revenue from a significant share of roamers. For services that are popular with travelers, such as maps, travel information, restaurant reviews, and e-mail, mobile operators can offer prices that are comparable with or even better than local Wi-Fi providers. However, if roaming subscribers are to use mobile data, they must feel that they are in control of the costs they incur.
Up-to-date spending control is a must to give roaming subscribers the confidence they need to activate mobile data. To maximize adoption, offers aimed at this group must also be designed to give full control in a user-friendly manner. It is not enough to give up-to-date balance information upon request. Constantly having to check one’s account balance would decrease the usability of data services.
Instead, operators should offer spending thresholds, so that subscribers can rest assured that their costs will not exceed a set limit. It is also important to allow subscribers to increase these thresholds. The ultimate goal of increased cost control for roaming data is not to limit usage but to make that usage a conscious choice rather than a gamble. To maximize revenues, operators should inform subscribers when they approach their spending threshold and give the option of increasing it to continue using data services.
Full control can only be offered if operators track spending in real-time. Even a one-minute delay can mean costs of hundreds of dollars to the subscriber, scaring many to leave their mobile connection off.
With the right design, increased cost control for roaming data makes subscribers more relaxed and improves the perceived value of mobile data services. This will drive new revenues for the operator in the process. It also helps limit bill shock issues, decreasing customer bad-will and the load on customer care.
Three concrete tips for implement Roaming Data Services
To be able to implement impactful roaming data services, operators need to consider their existing infrastructure:
- Solutions must support the creation of spending thresholds and handle interaction with subscribers to manage these. This should include sending automatic notifications when approaching and reaching a threshold, and handling of subscriber requests to increase a threshold.
- Solutions must offer online processing of service charges, meaning that additional service use is checked against spending thresholds before service is delivered. As mentioned above, just tracking costs in near real-time with hot billing solutions is not enough as customers can incur large costs in very short periods of time.
- As online processing of charges is an important enabler for roaming products, it might make sense to add the functionality mentioned above to existing online charging systems. However, this may prove costly and time-consuming. Managing all subscribers, including post-paid subscribers, in an existing OCS might incur additional license costs from the vendor, and delivery of the additional features needed can be expensive and delay product launch. Therefore, our recommendation is to consider using a separate platform for managing cost control for roaming subscribers.
Advanced spending control with customizable thresholds and automated subscriber interaction enables operators to drive revenue from roaming data services. This is also true in regions where basic spending limits are required by legislation, such as the European Union. By offering subscriber-adjustable spending limits, operators can provide a better service and help subscriber make use of mobile data services without fear.
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An expert in online charging, Symsoft offers a number of solutions that help operators capture roaming revenue and decrease costs. Click here for more information about the Symsoft Roaming Data Control product that helps operators increase their revenue from roaming data services.