International roaming charges are such a pain for anyone who travels abroad. The user may end up paying huge bills or would have to hunt for a local SIM card to make calls when in travel. But what if there is no more global roaming rates? Wow! isn’t it? That exactly is Google trying to do for its users in America.
Sources say Google is in discussions with various mobile network providers to provide the same service for its upcoming mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service. The service providers include Hong Kong based Hutchinson Whampoa that runs Three network in Europe and Asia along with Hutch, Vietnamobile and holds half the stakes of Vodafone Australia. Three UK also has been working to provide free international roaming for its users which makes the idea to partner with Google is a good idea.
Around a month ago, Google declared about its plan to launch network services for mobile phones by making use of their network infrastructure. The product chief Sundar Pichai said in an interview that it would done on a smaller scale but maybe an ambitious plan to shake the market. This would change the traditional offering of the service provider and would change the customers’ expectations on the networks. Google already holds access to T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks wholesale. It is expected this network would be made available only for Nexus 6 though.
With its ambitious plans, Google may soon introduce the ‘no roaming charges’ plan for the users. Roaming charges are very high when travelled to other countries whether its calls or data or SMS. Most of them stay without using the phones apart from those who are ready to pay high charges. A break from the roaming charges would give a big break for the network service providers. This is being used as an instrument for the small carriers to challenge the larger service providers.
Google is not the first to think about ‘free roaming’ plans. Many of AT&T customers moved to T-Mobile to benefit the free international roaming. A French mobile network Free Mobile offers something unique to its customers. The customer when travel abroad can enjoy 35 days of ‘no-international- roaming-charges’ for calls, text and data per year in around 15 countries. Though they are mostly European countries, it’s likely it may soon expand to Canada.
European Commission has already working on to cut roaming charges in within Europe. This is an attempt to unify the telecommunication market in the Europe. However, the service providers make good money through the roaming charges and their partnerships with other carriers. So they have agreed to reduce the roaming rates until 2018 rather than completely eradicating them.
Partnering with an UK company doesn’t mean it has intentions to offer its services in UK too. Google chose Hutchinson Whampoa as it already allows free roaming for its users when travelled to United States and other countries. This in means would also allow Google subscribers to all free roaming on the networks Hutchinson Whampoa owns or partners with.
Though the new technology of improving the mobile networks via Wi-Fi networks is encouraging and a good news for customers, entry of tech giants like Google and Apple into the telecom industry is sure to make other players of the industry uncomfortable.