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T-Mobile Netherlands to cheapen cost of EU roaming

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The Dutch subsidiary of T-Mobile has announced that as of next week it will begin offering free international voice and SMS allowances to customers within the EU. On its new packages, the operator plans to allow up to two hours per month of inbound and outbound voice calls anywhere within the EU, and also unlimited text messaging.

Speaking to Telecoms.com, a T-Mobile Netherlands representative confirmed the reduced rate will come down from 23 cents per minute to nothing, up to 120 minutes of calling time.

The operator also alleged it recognised industry trends pointing towards reduced voice and text costs, and has spent the past couple of years integrating bundles with existing BSS infrastructure to ensure their feasibility. “Of course, a lot of it comes down to trends, but we’ve seen this one coming over the past couple of years,” said a T-Mobile representative. “We decided a year ago to go ahead with this, but it takes time to get everything implemented in our back end IT systems. “

Being a pure mobile player, there is a need to differentiate from triple and quad-play telcos in the market. T-Mobile believes that such plans will provide a more compelling value proposition to customers, in a fiercely competitive and increasingly converged market.

“Primarily we just want to differentiate from our competitors; we’re a pure mobile operator, and not a triple or quad play,” the telco told Telecoms.com. “So we decided to break some of the telecoms conventions, and this is one of them. At the same time we’re also allowing a new subscription model to adjust your data and voice bundle every month, flexibly, during your contract. Whether that’s upwards or downwards, or take it down to zero altogether, and that’s about freedom of choice for customers.”

T-Mobile Netherlands currently serves roughly 4 million customers in Holland, and all of them will be eligible for the data plan, depending on current contractual subscriptions and commitments. The telco claims that all customers will be able to migrate over to the new rate plans in one way or another, however.

It is of little surprise that more mobile players are beginning to investigate reduced calling and texting rates across the continent. On a top level view, there are two distinct motivators for such a move. It’s now commonly accepted that voice and text-based revenues are on the wane, particularly in the face of increased competitive forces from over-the-top communications and increased wifi public connectivity availability. Also, kick-started by Neelie Kroes and now being continued into the Juncker Commission, the EC is quite aggressively pursuing  the elimination of cross-border roaming fees within the UK.

Taking this discussion to its next logical conclusion, one questions how data packages are being treated by the telco, if they’re already in the process of reducing voice and data costs.

“We are actively looking into that at the moment. Right now we have the Travel & Surf bundle, which is an international data pass plan. We don’t allow customers to go on the internet abroad without a data plan, so it’s impossible for the customer to have any nasty surprises when they get home,” said T-Mobile’s representative.  It’s an interesting approach the telco is taking, one might argue that not only is the Travel & Surf policy a good method for avoiding bill shock while simultaneously educating the customer, but it is also a means for maximising upsell opportunities.

“With the data passes we’re already 5 times cheaper than current EU tariffs, which is only 5 cents per megabyte instead of 23 cents it is currently. We are certainly looking at implementing data into this roaming model, but it takes a little bit of time to do that.”

T-Mobile Netherlands will reveal the price of the new tariffs on Friday.


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