European mobile operators are scrambling to deploy roaming control systems as the 1 July deadline looms for the introduction of a cap on SMS tariffs and mobile roaming rates, according to Starhome, a provider of roaming services for mobile network operators.
"We are seeing a noticeable rise in inquiries for roaming control solutions, " said Amit Daniel, vice president of marketing at Starhome. "Operators are understandably concerned about finding and implementing solutions in such a short time without incurring penalties, disrupting existing operations or inconveniencing customers."
Vodafone has already announced plans to drop roaming charges for three months from 1 June in a bid to get users comfortable with the idea of using their mobiles abroad without accidentally running up huge bills.
The new EU regulations mean that mobile users sending text messages abroad must not be charged more than 11 cents (9p), and those receiving texts in other EU countries cannot be charged at all.
Incoming calls will be capped at 43 cents (37p) per minute, dropping to 39 cents (34p) in 2010 and 35 cents (30p) by 1 July 2011. Data will be throttled back to €1 (88p) per megabyte this year and to €0.50 (43p) by 2011, with a €50 (£43) threshold when providers must alert the user.
An effective roaming control platform provides mobile operators with real-time monitoring of data usage, enabling them to define limitations, packages and notifications using existing platforms and connectivity to current systems, according to Starhome.
"Mobile operators are anxiously seeking a solution with a quick time-to-market that will enable them to comply with the new regulations and serve as a platform for the second phase of the regulations," said Daniel.
Starhome claimed that this is a perfect opportunity for providers to go beyond the regulations to offer customers greater control over their mobile spending, while still creating new revenues by supporting different and more complex rating plans for roaming, and allowing subscribers to define individual cost caps in real time.
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