Asia Pac shows Europe how data roaming is done
Third placed Singaporean operator M1 has launched a promotional daily data roaming plan capping charges at S$25.60 ($18.75) per day for usage of 5MB or more.
Below 5MB, users pay S$0.05 ($0.036) per 10KB. The plan is available to M1 subscribers roaming on the Celcom Malaysia and SmarTone-Vodafone Hong Kong networks until mid-December.
Analysts at telecoms.com parent, Informa Telecoms & Media, welcomed the move, which highlights how Asia Pacific is continuing to challenge traditional roaming tariff structures as an effect of domestic competition.
"The Asia Pacific markets are achieving through competition what it is taking the threat of regulation to manage in Europe," said Angela Stainthorpe, research analyst at Informa.
M1's move follows the introduction of flat rate daily data roaming plans by Starhub, Singapore's second largest mobile operator.
Starhub's offer - launched in April - gives customers unlimited data roaming on seven Asia Pacific networks for S$30 per day. The unlimited data plan was jointly rolled out with pay-per-day flat rate data and capped roaming plans from six other members of the Conexus Alliance. These flat rate services were the first of their kind in the region.
"Transparent tariffs will be key to the success of data roaming", said Stainthorpe, "And data will be the future for roaming in Asia Pacific."
The analyst said that while roaming in Asia Pacific is certainly significant, it is not at nearly the same level as in the more mature European roaming markets, which is why traditional roaming models are less important to the region. "We expect to see more unlimited plans in Asia Pacific as the roaming alliances strengthen their presence in the consumer marketplace. Their inter-operator relationships will expedite and simplify wholesale roaming negotiations, leading to more innovative pricing structures for end users," Stainthorpe said.
Revenues from non-SMS data roaming in Asia Pacific are forecast to grow to almost four times their 2008 level by 2013, according to figures from Informa's recently published strategic report 'Global Mobile Roaming: Operator strategies and Market Trends - 3rd edition'.