Google Seeks to Abolish International Roaming Fees

by Matt Klassen on April 7, 2015

For many of us roaming fees are a painful reality of life, particularly for those of us who travel extensively across the globe. Such onerous international roaming restrictions often impose dreadfully steep additional fees for calls, text messages, and, the real money maker, data transfer; unless of course you opt in for one of your local carrier’s roaming packages (fees on top of fees) or simply forego the use of your mobile device while out of the country. But with Google, however, it looks like all of that is about to change.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Google is attempting to establish an unprecedented global network of mobile partners that will allow paying customers of its burgeoning mobile network to avoid incurring roaming charges; allowing them to use their phone anywhere in the world with no additional charges or fees.

Simply put, Google is looking to establish a global wireless partnership to abolish roaming fees, providing its customers with free international roaming, a move that has the potential to one-up any market altering promotions or ploys we’ve seen to date.

So move over T-Mobile, there’s a new wireless revolution in town.

When Google signed deals with both Sprint and T-Mobile to become a wireless service reseller earlier this year it was stood out to me as a potential game changer, a paradigm altering partnership that would continue to blur the lines between the tech and telecom industries. But as Google stood poised to enter the ultra-competitive wireless market many industry analysts gave the search engine little chance to compete, as its poor track record with direct-to-consumer projects signalled a lack of ability to properly handle the challenges of such a multi-faceted industry.

But despite the questions about its ability to handle the rigours of the wireless market, Google is utilizing the one asset it has over the rest of its newfound wireless service competition: its global reach.

The search engine giant is currently in negotiations with Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, the UK newspaper said, a giant multi-national telecom that operates networks in the UK, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Ireland. Should the partnership materialize, it would be a landmark deal, shattering current customer expectations for what a service provider should offer and just how much it should cost.

It’s those very expectations that have allowed the likes of AT&T and Verizon to enjoy significantly higher profit margins than their global counterparts, as those companies have been able to establish a precedent that roaming will cost you a lot of money…period. The fact of the matter is that roaming is yet another cash cow for wireless service providers, and what better way for Google to differentiate itself from the incumbent competitors than to point out that they’ve been bilking you for years, purposely inflating the cost of roaming and pocketing the profits.

So while the likes of AT&T and Verizon have avoided responding to the T-Mobile’s UnCarrier promotions, understanding that such deep discounts are ultimately unsustainable, Google’s move to establish a global network strikes me as the first real move to truly unsettle our domestic mobile market, one that the incumbents simply won’t be able to ignore.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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