As you guys know, we’ve put a lot of thought into data roaming over the past several weeks. (Check out our previous blogs if you’d like some of that context!). To recap, here are the challenges we’ve faced:
- Data roaming on other wireless carriers’ networks is extremely expensive. As in, near 30 times more expensive than on-network wireless data usage. (Recall, we all benefit when WiFi networks are used instead of wireless networks at all!)
- This is not solely a Republic issue. This is an issue across the industry at the moment.
- The tools to manage the cost exposure associated with wireless (also known as CMRS and cellular) data roaming are not as precise as people may believe. And, for us in particular, it presents problems because we have a three day lag in our access to the usage data from our carrier partner.
- We’ve seen that the extraordinary cost of wireless data roaming usage within the base offering fundamentally undermines our ability to deliver maximum value to the majority of our member base.
So – there have been lots of tough things we’ve had to think through. That’s a big part of the reason we reached out to you guys in our Think Tank to help us try to balance what you wanted and needed, relative to these burdensome costs when it came to plan pricing and data roaming. Unsurprisingly, what we got was a lot of different perspectives. Some folks are not interested in wireless data roaming at all while others are very much interested and want some small amount included in their monthly service plan. Others are interested, but only if it’s a sufficient amount. Still, others would like a pay-per-use option to ensure they can get sufficient roaming data. With the diversity of thoughts and experiences you’ve shared, we’ve learned a lot and have formulated some answers. We can see that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to satisfy these diverse needs; and we also hear you loud and clear when you say that a top priority is protecting low pricing. So – between the very real data roaming cost challenges we’re experiencing and your feedback – where have we landed?
For us, it came down to our maniacal core goal: to provide as much value to our members as we can. After speaking with our members and analyzing usage data, we’ve learned that not everyone needs or wants wireless data roaming, particularly if it's a threat to low cost plans (which, being ~30x more expensive, it is). So what are we going to do about the fact that some folks seem to really want roaming options, while others are primarily concerned with cost and are happy to focus their usage to WiFi networks? We’re going to focus on providing the greatest value for the greatest number of our members. As such, we will be working to offer on-demand wireless data roaming for the times when you need it. This will be an add-on option to our existing plans and will be priced at the absolute lowest cost possible. What does that mean? It means that we will build out an option to add wireless data roaming into any of our plans with data, so that we can optimally offer low priced plans that are protected from the higher costs of wireless data roaming.
And yes, you guessed it, it will take time to build that add-on data roaming option. So what will we do in the meantime to address the exorbitantly high costs of roaming? While we develop our solution, we WILL be keeping wireless data roaming available to you. However, beginning Monday, September 15th, we will be lowering the standard wireless data roaming allotment to 25MB and reducing roaming speeds. Based on our data, this will accommodate most of you guys who need wireless data roaming while allowing us to offer low-priced plans for the entire member base (our top priority). Lastly, we’re reaching out to folks who are clearly exploiting the current data offer and will continue to enforce the Terms of Service on this point. We genuinely believe these combined efforts will provide you guys with both the most choice and the most value, despite the challenges we’re experiencing on this front.
Of course, remember that these changes, with respect to wireless data roaming, do not affect your use of standard network data, nor will it impact your use of either voice or text even while roaming! So keep on keeping on in those departments (and don’t forget to use WiFi whenever you can!).
Thanks again for all your input in the Think Tank; it has been immensely helpful for us in understanding your wireless/CMRS data roaming needs, and reiterating that both this feature and pricing are important to you guys as a whole. After putting our heads together for the past couple weeks, we believe we’ve found a way to strike a balance that will deliver what you told us you most want. So: we’ll be advancing on the wireless data roaming add-on option as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, we’ll be implementing the changes outlined above to protect our ability to offer the most savings to you. We’ll stay in tight communication with you guys on these projects so that we’re all on the same page, so look out for more updates! Thanks again for your brainpower guys, we couldn’t have done this without you.
For questions regarding this policy change, please go to: Data Roaming Policy FAQs
As always, please leave your questions and comments here.