Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food For Thought: Cellular Data Roaming Charges

I spotted an article last week about a Regina man who incurred $10,600 in data roaming charges from SaskTel when he travelled to Phoenix, Arizona and let his grandkids watch Netflix movies over a mobile data stick for his laptop.

The man in the article was honest about his mistake and I'm not going to judge him. What I think is ridiculous is the extremely high data fees he incurred, and how they were dealt with. The article says:
"[The man] followed up with SaskTel which decided to take mercy on him and promised to reduce the $10,668.38 bill by $9,600."
That's good PR for SaskTel, but I think it highlights the worthlessness of data fees on mobile devices. While cellular carriers do incur expenses creating international roaming agreements with carriers worldwide, the $9,600 bill reduction demonstrates that data fees are mostly pure profit for telecoms.

In other words: SaskTel gave up $9,600 in pure profit to get some good PR by taking mercy on a grandfather, but their roaming data rates (and the rates of their competitors) will remain sky-high to scalp profits from ignorant consumers.

I'm not villainizing SaskTel - cellular carriers all over the world do this. So be careful with your smartphones, tablets, and mobile data sticks while travelling!