Telecom introduces flat rate roaming

A huge and welcome announcement by Telecom today. They have concluded agreements in a number of countries, so mobile customers can data roam for a flat rate per day.

The rate is $10 a day for UK, US, Canada, China and Hong Kong and Taiwan (and a couple of others) and $6 a day in Australia. This is pretty damn decent, when you consider per MB rates tend to be $10/MB!

The test for me is whether the rates are low enough that I would keep my NZ sim card in the phone, rather than buy a local sim. While local sims will still be cheaper, it is a hassle to have a different number while overseas and acquiring the sim can be a hassle also. So I’d say I’ll now stick with my Telecom sim when travelling overseas to one of those countries.

As you can tether your laptop to your phone, the $10/day charge is also cheaper than what many hotels charge for daily Internet. In some countries the hotels have free Internet, but not universal.

This new plan by Telecom will shake up the market dramatically. If Vodafone and 2 degrees don’t respond, I can see a lot of business travellers swapping over. Also as far as I know, a flat rate roaming deal is very rare outside Europe (which is basically one market now). This deal could have flow on effects to other markets.

I understand Telecom CEO Simon Moutter personally pushed this initiative, based on his experience as CEO of Auckland Airport. It seems one of the most common complaints he heard there was about international .

Two thirds of Telecom customers turn off data when in Australia. I’m one of those. I’ll definitely keep it on for $6 a day (of course would not object to this lowering over time).

The worse thing about the per MB rates is you simply don’t know how much you’ll end up walloped for. There is going to be a fair use policy for use overseas but it won’t be a fixed limit or anything, Basically it will just be based on your data usage overseas being comparable to your usage in NZ. So don’t download any movies while roaming.

I find it quite easy to use 20  to 50 MB a day on my phone, just through normal activities such as web, GPS, youtube, e-mail, twitter and facebook.

I swapped from Vodafone to Telecom a year or two ago for my mobile (still Vodafone for landline and Internet) mainly based on the coverage. There were just too many areas (esp in Auckland) that Vodafone signal was too weak. If I hadn’t swapped. I’d be tempted to do so now just for the roaming rates. However I suspect Vodafone will be under great pressure to respond with a similar flat rate package for data roaming – which will be good. I love competition!

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