T-Mobile's new free pricing for international roaming is great for business travelers, but will it disrupt a key feature for some mobile device management providers?
T-Mobile (TMUS) is about to disrupt a key component of a few big mobile device management platforms -- telecom expense management (TEM). The mobile carrier last week announced free international roaming -- something previously unheard of in telecom circles. Announcing the change last week the company said in a statement that it is: "delivering unlimited global data at no extra charge in 100+ countries - making the company's home data coverage area larger than AT&T's and Verizon's." Here are the details.
But first some background. Telecom expense management (TEM) is a feature of mobility management that monitors telecom network usage to ensure that users don't accidentally rack up enormous bills. Mobile lifecycle management provider Tangoe's (TNGO) senior VP Dan Rudich last year told MSPmentor some of the horror stories of insanely high bills last year. For instance, an employee who traveled to Israel couldn't find anything on TV so he downloaded first season of Seinfeld. It was a costly mistake – a $175,000 bill for that month. (We've reached out to Tangoe for comment on the T-Mobile changes).
Hearing the horror stories, many users have made it a standard practice to put their phones in "airplane mode" when they leave the country, effectively turning off all voice and telecom carrier-provided data connections. Others have relied on the TEM features of their mobile device management (MDM) service or platform. T-Mobile customers will no longer have to do that now that the carrier has made international data roaming free and published a transparent flat-rate for phone calls during international roaming.
"The cost of staying connected across borders is completely crazy," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US, Inc., in the company's prepared statement. "Today's phones are designed to work around the world, but we're forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them. You can't leave the country without coming home to bill shock. So we're making the world your network - at no extra cost."
AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), two other big mobile carriers, have not commented on whether they will also change their international roaming charges. T-Mobile also recently disrupted mobile phone contracts offering customers a payment plan for phones and a contract that does not lock them into device upgrades once every two years.