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Will Roaming Become Extinct?

Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think we may be entering roaming’s last age.

Late last year, I wrote about the extreme lengths I went whilst traveling to avoid roaming fees, and the huge difference it made to by phone bill.

On my current trip, I’ve already hit a stumbling block. My US MiFi account has been closed, as the service provider now requires very regular top-ups, even if you’re in credit.

But, perhaps the challenge of managing your roaming charges could disappear. Here are three reasons that I think they might go the way of the dodo.

One: Some operators are removing the premium from their roaming packages. Three UK is bringing local rates to more countries: US, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Macau. Last year, T-Mobile started offering unlimited international data and text services in over 100 countries at no extra cost, and voice services at a flat rate.

Two: LTE—and its local breakout feature in particular—makes roaming much easier (read: cheaper) for operators. As my colleague Michel van Veen puts it, “At first glance, roaming advantages dominate the LTE experience. Local Breakout, a mechanism where roaming traffic does not traverse back to the home network and is handled by the local operator, allows for cheaper tariffs and will also bring increased localised revenue.”

Three: A service-specific roaming deal has hit the scene. Saudi Arabian operator Mobiliy realised that when you’re traveling, you don’t necessarily need all your apps. For many, Facebook and a messaging service would suffice. Hence, the Mobiliy offers packages for Facebook and What’sApp, which give you unlimited data usage for those services in over 50 countries.

Is it just my wishful thinking, or are the days of roaming-charge bill shock numbered?