Rating: Orange needs to fine tune its offer
Having just attended probably the biggest event in the 2012 calendar covering the subject of ‘roaming’ – MACH Insights 2012, GoMobile News thought we’d better taste our own cooking, so to speak. The results were – er, um, slightly unfortunate. We ran into several bugs which definitely need ironing out. These incidents helped to illustrate that the roaming industry is still very much in its infancy and the data roaming side, even more so.For those readers who might be unsure what ‘roaming’ actually is, it is the provision of all the services you’d expect to be offered on your ‘home’ network by a completely different network operator.
Roaming in an integral part of the GSM standards and in the vast majority of cases, handsets normally only roam onto a different network when you enter a new geographic territory
One of the hottest topics in roaming – which was reflected at MACH Insights 2012, are the new requirements from the European Union to effectively put a cap on how much operators can charge their subscribers when they are roaming abroad.
These requirements for voice have been in place for a while, but now operators are being asked to put caps in place for charges made for ‘data’ roaming as well.
European operators are struggling not only with implementing these new requirements but also to persuade their customers to utilise data roaming when abroad – rather than relying on Wi-Fi instead.
The reason behind this is ‘bill shock’ whereby travellers return home to find they have run up enormous bills for their data usage whilst roaming – without realising they were doing so.
At MACH Insights Yves Martin, vp group roaming & interconnect with the Orange Group, revealed that 70 per cent of active voice roamers smartphones turn off data while roaming.
So Orange has introduced incentives to try to convince roaming subscribers that it is worth using their existing cellular data connexion rather than trying to use Wi-Fi instead.
Now when GoMobile News was at the conference in Prague, the hotel was charging about £6 per day for basic (ie low speed) Internet access via Ethernet (in the bedroom) or via Wi-Fi.
Orange’s response has been to send its subscribers a very attractive offer which arrives as a text message roughly an hour after they have landed.
The text points out that in accordance with EU regulations it is able to charge £3.07 per MB to use a data connexion.
The compelling offer is that if the subscriber ‘opts out’ of the standard EU requirement, he or she can take advantage of a whacking 30 MB for just £3 per day.
But you have to agree to avoid the EU cap of 16 MB per day in order to take up this offer. Any sane person would, of course, take Orange up on the offer.
There are only two drawbacks. If you go over the 30MB limit, then you have to pay Orange £3.07 per MB for each extra megabyte. So, in theory, you could suffer from bill shock if you accidentally downloaded several video DVDs worth of data.
Orange has thought of this, however. So it offers its subscribers an app for their smartphone which enables them to closely monitor their actual data usage so they don’t stray over that 30 MB limit.
Great. But Orange was obviously not counting on an atypical subscriber like GoMobile News. The system offered us an app for our Nokia. Unfortunately, our handset is Nokia’s Lumia 800 W7 Mango phone. Not a Symbian device.
Consequently, when we visited http://orangeworld.co.uk/r/travelapps/, Orange offered us an app named Internet Tracker for which it wanted £3.
The only snag is that when you click on this link it takes you to the Ovi Store and tries to get you to download that app (created by FloraMobileApps). Except there isn’t a Windows Phone version.
This is obviously a teething problem which will need to be ironed out but the next bug was far more serious.
Having opted in for this special 30 MB package, everything was going swimmingly until GoMobile News received another message warning us that, “Sorry but we were unable to add your daily 30 MB mobile internet travel bundle to your account due to a technical error.”
So we turned data roaming off. And guess what? Orange promptly sent another text offering us the bundle again. We accepted again and then got ourselves into infinite loop.
Orange’s error text suggested we called 150. Two things wrong with this. A) 150 is a shortcode which frequently won’t work abroad. Orange should have said +447973100150.
Problem B) was that 150 was closed when we called. Not very sensible when we were in a completely different time zone.
Eventually we got hold of an Orange call centre agent who informed us that the reason we couldn’t add the 30MB package a second time was because it had already been added.
The package was already in place so this was the ‘technical error’ preventing us from opting for the offer. The agent made it abundantly clear that ours was an extremely common problem which Orange has yet to fix.
Early days. Oh, dear. At least Orange’s intentions are good and if it irons out these teething problems, then many subscribers will take advantage.