Is This the End of Bill Shock for International Mobile Roaming?

Is This the End of Bill Shock for International Mobile Roaming?

Many people have encountered a similar frustration when travelling overseas: bill shock from international roaming charges. Hui Mei Chua was no exception.

“I experienced bill shock when buying roaming services from telcos,” says Chua. “Later, when I worked in travel, I had a lot of feedback from customers facing issues with high data-roaming charges.”

Chua, a Macquarie Business School (MQBS) student, knew she had a great topic for her assessment for the Designing Organisations for the Digital World course as part of her MBA.

“I chose the unit because I’m interested to know how the travel industry can be designed for the digital world and provide more value to consumers.”

Chua realised she was onto a common concern when she completed the course’s “Crowd-sourced Learning Community” assessment. “My classmates had all experienced the same problem, too.”

Travellers expect to stay connected

Is This the End of Bill Shock for International Mobile Roaming?

Travellers of a certain age will recall when reverse-charge calls and post were the main channels of communication while they were overseas. Today, Millennials and Gen Z aren’t the only generations who expect to be “always on” wherever they are in the world.

“Our lifestyle and needs when we travel have changed greatly – we use data for navigation, to post to social media and to stream music when we’re travelling,” says Chua.

Business travel has also changed. The rise of the digital nomad means people are working overseas for months at a time and even on short work trips, they’ll need to join meetings virtually, via Zoom, Teams and other video conferencing services.

“Everyone’s having meetings on the go, and this of course affects data usage. It also means the importance of a stable connection is greater. People don’t want it to break up when they’re in the middle of a meeting.”

Macquarie University Business School rethinks, reimagines and rewrites the rules of business, with world-leading research and post-graduate programs. Find out more.

Technology to the rescue – for service and cost

Is This the End of Bill Shock for International Mobile Roaming?

Chua says her research for her MBA course assessments came up with three main technology trends changing international mobile roaming services:

  • Predictive warnings By the time a data-usage warning is received, it’s often too late – the user has exceeded their limit and the “meter” is turning over on those extra charges. “If telco providers use predictive analytics and deep learning, they can more accurately predict when that person will use up their data package, and they can proactively reach out to them well in advance. This reduces bill shock and improves transparency.”
  • eSIMs Programmable SIM card technology allows users to hold multiple phone numbers with multiple carriers with a single eSIM. “The benefit for travellers is there’s no need to physically change your SIM card – it enables seamless connection to the local mobile network that travellers can activate right from their phones. It’s been around for a number of years but its application will be more prevalent with more phones compatible with eSIM technology and a growing number of telcos supporting it.”
  • Recommender system In the same way that algorithms recommend the next thing to watch or buy, this data-science based system can also be used by telcos and travel service providers to suggest the best roaming plans for each person. “It can be intimidating finding a suitable plan when you’re planning your trip, when there are so many other things to be done. This system can offer only relevant information for individuals and make it a better user experience, which builds trust and loyalty.”

In the end, it’s about service as well as cost. “Travellers are looking for a better experience when they’re planning their trip, as well as on the road. The more we can use technology to recommend the right products, improve connection quality and offer better data tracking, the better the user experience will be.”

Macquarie University Business School rethinks, reimagines and rewrites the rules of business, with world-leading research and post-graduate programs. Find out more.

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