Silent roamers, those who switch off their cellphones while roaming or seek to minimise their consumption because they fear large bills for roaming usage, could mean mobile operators miss out on $1.2bn in roaming revenues, according to roaming specialist Syniverse.
Silent roamers aren’t necessarily unwilling to pay for any roaming, they’re simply frightened of the costs spiraling out of control. Flat rate daily deals or packages that cap spending could be deployed to encourage the silent roamers to make at least some noise when away from their domestic market.
Based on insights from the millions of daily transactions it processes, as well as third-party data from Informa Telecoms & Media, Syniverse has calculated there are a monthly average of approximately 75 million unique outbound international roamers. The company has found that more than 50% of those roamers do not use voice services and up to 70% do not use data services. Those figures combined represent a total lost revenue opportunity of more than $1.2bn.
“From our point of view, the challenge is how do you change the behaviour, how do you make people comfortable, even when they are willing to spend money,” said Mary Clark, senior vice president of roaming and interworking at Syniverse. “Maybe it’s a plan, a rate per day or a relevant offer.”
Certainly, the current practice of communicating roaming costs by SMS welcome message doesn’t appear to be working. “All that did was scare you,” added Clark.
Instead, she wants to see operators use real-time intelligence tools to enable them to make attractive propositions to roamers. “We’re not looking to tell you the price per megabit in dollars, pounds or euros,” she said. “But to improve the customers’ experience while roaming, the customer has to be roaming. The customer has to feel in control. I’m continually baffled by the idea we have the assumption that because there’s a massive spike in smartphones so there will be a massive increase in demand. The next step, really, is how do we get 50% of roamers to even turn on their phones.”
By George Malim