This year has started with a lot of positive creativity on the operator side in Germany and elsewhere. Examples: Affordable prepaid mobile data is now available in a number of countries (Germany, Austria, Italy for example). Also, Vodafone has introduced a €15 euro a day roaming for data on prepaid SIMs and Three has even scrapped roaming charges for mobile voice and data altogether. It seems, however, that there is also some anti-creativity on the operator side these days when it comes to inventing new fees for so far free services. As reported by Teltarif in this article, Arcor and 1&1, two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) of Vodafone Germany, have silently put fees for incoming SMS message while roaming into their fine print. Prices for incoming SMS messages are foreseen to range between 59 cents and 1.49 euros depending on the country. Charging for incoming SMS messages will start by mid of this year.
The problem with charging for incoming SMS messages is that the user can not stop receiving SMS messages while roaming today. So if these MVNO's really start doing this, then the least I would expect of them is to offer the possibility for the user to block incoming SMS while roaming. Also, I would expect them not to charge users for sending SMS messages which are then blocked by the receiver. Well, let's see what happens, I am still not convinced that they will prevail with this.
I am not sure yet if this is a move intended as a threat against current activities of the EU to lower roaming charges or if this will be another nail in the roaming coffin which will inflame decision makers in the EU even more and push them to reduce roaming charges even further.
More Anti-Creativity Suggestions
It seems some operators are getting desperate these days to compensate for falling prices for voice minutes. Here are some suggestions from my side in case you need more destructive ideas for your business:
- Charge users for switching their mobiles on and off
- Charge users making a call which is never answered
- Charge users for switching voice mail or call forwarding on and off.
- Charge users for the time their mobile is switched on per day
- Charge users for mobility, i.e. charge them when they don't leave the phone at home but instead carry it in the pocket while roaming out and about.
All these events require network interaction and all of them are recorded. No problem to forward these records to the billing server. I am getting goose bumps...
So all jokes aside dear operators. Instead of this roaming SMS anti-creativity why are you not considering some positive creativity like your competitors as shown at the beginning of this entry to increase your revenue by offering interesting services at affordable prices?