Austria's A1 now includes roaming in smartphone tariffs

Telekom Austria's A1 business has become the latest European mobile operator to include voice and data roaming services in its domestic smartphone tariffs without extra charge, ahead of changes that will see roaming fees reduced further in the European Union from the end of this month and completely abolished in 2017.

A1, which is the brand for Telekom Austria's fixed, mobile and TV services in its domestic market, said the revamped A1 Go! tariffs from "M" through to "Premium" now include voice, SMS and data roaming services that can be used like at home.

The new tariffs were introduced on Apr. 1, and are marketed under the strap line: roaming without surprises. They apply to the whole of the EU as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

A1 claims it is the first in Austria to offer such all-inclusive roaming tariffs, although it is certainly not the first in Europe. In the UK, for example, Three UK has been offering the Feel at Home service for some time.

In Austria, Three does include some free roaming elements within its tariffs -- such as 600 minutes and 250 MB in and to Europe -- but still sells separate roaming plans. T-Mobile Austria also sells separate Travel & Surf plans, for example.

However, A1 has also inserted some fair usage rules for roaming tariffs: if more than 3,500 minutes, 3,500 texts and 50 per cent of the included data volume are used within one month, users must stay below these levels in the following month. Should these usage limits be exceeded, the use of domestic units when abroad is no longer permitted.

In December last year, Juniper Research predicted that European operators will not increase prices to offset a near 30 per cent drop in roaming revenues when EU-mandated cuts come into force in 2017.

The research company forecast that European operators will see income from roaming fees drop by 28 per cent in 2017, when operators will be obliged to phase out premium pricing on international calls, SMS and data services for customers roaming within EU member state markets.

However, operators will still face an uphill battle to convince all of their subscribers to use their mobile phones while travelling. Juniper Research noted that a "sizable base of 'ingrained' silent roamers" will still exist from 2017 onwards. Juniper Research classified such customers as those who switch off roaming services completely, or seek alternative ways of accessing services such as Wi-Fi or locally sourced SIMs.

For more:
- see this A1 release (in German)

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