[Reuters] Telekom Austria and T-Mobile are launching new data roaming rates to allow controllable surfing abroad in a race to get an edge in the mobile data market and monetize the explosion of data usage.
Telekom Austria will allow consumers, regardless of their domestic provider, to buy a data package -- called abroadband --- tailored to their needs and pay for the service through credit cards or PayPal, the Austrian telecom operator said late on Tuesday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The offer will initially be available in 27 countries and later be accessible in 53 countries worldwide.
While operators offer data packages in their domestic markets that allow predictable rates, consumers who use their mobile devices abroad often get what has been dubbed bill shock due to high data roaming rates.
The initial price will range between 19.90 euros ($26.87) and 49.90 euros depending on whether users buy a SIM card, a Micro SIM card or a USB modem box.
The standard usage price will be 0.59 euros per MB and allow downloading of up to 7.2 Mbps.
"With abroadband, we are enabling both business and leisure travellers to be online for the first time at a standard and cheap tariff worldwide," Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter said.
German rival T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE), also announced new data roaming tariffs for travellers on Tuesday although they are limited to the European Union. They will be available from the second half of the year, T-Mobile said.
T-Mobile said customers can choose "virtually unlimited surfing" for 14.95 euros a week. They can also buy 10 MB per day for 1.95 euros or 50 MB for 4.95 euros per day.
Operators worldwide agree that mobile data is driving the industry's growth but are scrambling to increase revenue from mobile data and manage their network capacity as the surge in demand for data has not translated into equivalent revenue streams.
Managing data capacity amid the explosion of mobile data due to smartphones and other mobile devices is an ongoing issue and operators have just begun to retreat from the flat-rate tariffs they offered to attract consumers in the first place in an effort to ease network strain.
It has been mostly heavy data users who are taking advantage of unlimited usage but a host of other devices including tablet PC's, TVs, printers and household appliances may push the number of connected objects to 50 billion by 2020.
T. Austria, T-Mobile launch new data roaming rates