Mobile operators around the world have found it helpful to users to allow them to use their mobile devices on other operators’ networks – perhaps in different countries or territories where the home service provider has no network service license. This premium service (American subscribers roaming in Germany for example, pay 99¢ per minute, an 800% premium over the typical US rate. This is a major source of revenue for mobile operators and has recently been investigated by the European Commission as a potentially anti-competitive industry practice for inter-member country roaming.

According to R. Brough Turner's blog post of 2006, the merger between Mannesmann Mobil and Vodaphone required the concession to NOT treat regional subsidiaries any different than regional competitors which led to the ridiculous circumstance where being a T-Mobile USA customer is to T-Mobile Germany about the same as an AT&T customer is to T-Mobile Germany.

Just how serious is the cost of roaming? 

Here's an interesting bit of recent research:

  • Sybase employee generates a $7,000 mobile phone bill
  • More common experience is $1,000 bill from trips to China

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