Rip off roaming: the MAXRoam response

Mobile 2.0 Europe has a strong sustainability element but the meme kinda falls apart when it comes to mobile roaming telephony costs.

Mobile 2.0 Europe has a strong sustainability element but the meme kinda falls apart when it comes to mobile roaming telephony costs. As anyone who travels outside their own country knows, roaming charges are at eye watering levels. Yet according to Tommy Ahlers, founder of Zyb and now head of location based services at Vodafone: "Location doesn't matter." That prompted the obvious question: "If location doesn't matter and Vodafone has a global brand then when will I get a global plan that doesn't require me to consider re-mortgaging my house?" Ahlers wasn't going there: "Talk to Pat Phelan," and later "I can't get into a discussion about roaming charges." That prompted the making of the above video - with Pat Phelan, CEO of Cubic Telecom which owns MAXRoam, a low cost call and data services company based in Cork, Ireland.

According to Phelan, mobile roaming is so lucrative that the large carriers can't give up their high margins: in the range 32-37%, without incurring the wrath of the financial markets. Sound familiar? We've seen this before in the business model that incumbent enterprise applications vendors operate. Wall Street first with customers losing out. Just as I believe the maintenance dominated apps market model is unsustainable, the same should be true for the mobile carriers. But as Phelan says, we need stronger competition.

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