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Transforming how we travel with Wi-Fi roaming

June 27, 2016

Christian Michaud   

Senior Vice President, Usage-Based Services, Voice & Mobility

When travelling, people now have more choice than ever when it comes to calling, messaging and using apps.

I travel for work almost every week, and I often wonder if I should accept paying high roaming costs, use over-the-top (OTT) applications or simply turn off my phone. It isn’t a simple decision.  I have to think about how important my calls are and who I need to contact. I’m just as (if not more) concerned when I travel for leisure and often simply turn off my phone to avoid high roaming costs.

Each option has some drawbacks and can limit how you communicate when travelling. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more and more business and leisure travellers are struggling to choose the best way to use their mobile while abroad. In fact, according to Ericsson ConsumerLab, almost a quarter of business and leisure travellers either keep their smartphone in airplane mode or simply switch it off for their entire trip. Half of all business travellers also admit that they have to monitor costs and cut down on personal calls while abroad.

With tens of millions of Wi-Fi hotspots around the world, I see Wi-Fi roaming as a real driver for change when it comes to keeping travellers connected. It enables them to use voice, SMS, video calling, and any data applications with their usual telephone number by using a global mesh of hotspots – which makes keeping in touch truly seamless.

This means that you don’t need to switch to an OTT application to make a call, send an SMS or access the Internet, and worry about ending up with a huge bill at the end of the month.

I see Wi-Fi roaming transforming how people use their mobile when traveling in five ways:

  1. Seamless access – Log in just once and connect to millions of Wi-Fi hotspots around the world with no fuss, credit card payments or without having to remember different passwords. You’re able to immediately connect without thinking about what platform or app you need to use.
  1. Consistent coverage – Access Wi-Fi at the airport, airplane, hotels, conference centres and anywhere else in or near a city centre. Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t typically linked together, but with Wi-Fi roaming, they become a meshed network of seamless, global connectivity.
  1. A complete solution – Wi-Fi roaming is not just about Internet connectivity– it also allows you to make calls, send text messages and do video calls using the same phone number. So, you don’t need to switch between an OTT messaging service or a video platform. And, your friends, family, colleagues and other contacts can reach you using the usual local number without paying surcharges.
  1. Cost efficiency – Reduce your mobile phone bill while travelling abroad by leveraging data networks rather than traditional roaming. You no longer have to worry about the cost of connecting and how much your bill might be at the end of a trip. It takes the uncertainty away.
  1. Consistent quality – Connect to reliable and standardised Wi-Fi hotspots that deliver a consistent user experience. When roaming in the traditional way in different locations in the world, Quality of Service can be inconsistent and you might not know if you will be able to use your apps and services while on the road. Wi-Fi roaming changes that.

By reducing the cost and enhancing the quality of making calls, messaging and accessing data services abroad, users are encouraged to use their mobile whenever, wherever. And, when travellers are able to use their mobile as easily and seamlessly as at home, everyone in the mobile ecosystem reaps the benefits of increased revenues and customer retention.

To learn more about how Tata Communications helps mobile network operators (MNOs) and OTTs create a more seamless roaming experience for their customers, go to: