Nigerian business executives and other frequent travellers now can save substantially on their GSM roaming bills as intense competition among the telecommunications firms force down charges across the board.
Some analysts said yesterday that the development which is the fallout of mass licensing of the operators was the best to have happened to the economy as well as to the subscribers.
“The tumbling roaming charges can be attributed to licensing of many telecommunications operators ,increasing cheap international calls options like Tango, Skype and improvement in communications technology, leading to reducing cost of rendering the services .
In Nigeria, we are just reaping the benefits of licensing of many operators so we have a real perfect market situation .In some nations where there are one or two operators, pricing may not be as competitive as we have here,” says Bolade Agbola, Executive Director Cashcraft Asset Management.
The first salvo was fired by Globacom through its “Glo unlimited roaming” which offers subscribers the chance of enjoying “free incoming calls from anywhere in the world while outside” Nigeria.
However, the plan is currently available in 27 countries including the US, Canada and most European countries, but to access this offer, the subscriber must top up their phones with credit of no less than N2,500 every two weeks, during which the subscriber shall have a cumulative free in coming calls usage of 60 minutes in the two weeks in question.
Airtel followed with an offer that grants free in coming calls up to a maximum of 100 minutes per month, after which incoming calls will be charged at N0.5 per minute if in Europe.
Etisalat and MTN have both dropped their charges for subscribers roaming their phones while on the move abroad.
Whereas Etisalat gives subscribers free in coming calls in ten countries mostly in Europe, UAE and South Africa and Ghana in Africa, MTN’s free in coming calls usage offer is applicable in 15 countries mostly in Europe, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.
Unlike other networks, MTN does not say if the free in coming calls offer will be limited to a maximum within a specific period of stay.
Etisalat insists that subscribers benefitting from the offer make a minimum top up of N5,000 for a period of 30 days, while in the case of MTN, subscribers require a minimum top up of N2,000 during the month of travel.
Last year, most of the GSM companies either lowered or completely removed charges for in-coming text messages.
The tumbling roaming charges will result in significant drop in telephone bills of subscribers, some of whom could see their phone bills tumble by as much as 30 per cent depending on how mobile they are in a given month, but it will further squeeze the average revenue per user, apru that has been under considerable pressure particularly in the last three years.