How Blockchain Can Bring You (nearly) Free Internet While Travelling
Abstract: Leveraging prodigal Indian Telco market to steer clear of international roaming charges, thanks to blockchain technology!
International telecommunication companies like BT Mobile, Orange, Virgin have made profit of more than $20 Billion just from roaming fees in 2017. According to Juniper, a telecommunication intelligence company, this number rises by 8% per year due to the rise of international mobility in emerging markets.
This article will throw light on how Indian telecom market can be exploited using blockchain technology to render cheap internet data access to tourists/travellers coming to India since India is on the radar of almost every traveller. Without further delay, let’s dive right in!
The cost at which communication is bought by tourists in India is exorbitantly high! If we take a look at what the American and French companies charge per Megabyte (MB) of Internet data:
The US based company AT&T charges its customers up to $60 per Gigabyte (GB). This is nearly 600 times the price Indians pay for 1 GB of internet data. Another option which AT&T provides is the $10/day pricing which is also not cheap at all.
These exorbitant prices also holds outside of the USA too. French tourist using SFR (the leading French carrier), for instance, may be charged up to €13,2 per megabyte if they forget to pre-buy a roaming plan. Even if they do, they will pay €2,5 per Megabyte. All this while Internet is nearly free for locals.
Today, India has the world’s second-largest mobile phone user base with over 1'150'000'000 users. Hyper-competition between telecoms in India has led to some of the lowest internet tariffs in the world: Indian people spend on average less than 19 Indian Rupees per Gigabyte (about 9 U.S. cents, 8 Euro cents!!).
Let’s talk numbers in real terms! And they are not pretty…
Given that the average web page today is 3 Megabyte big, and we spend on average 15 seconds per web page. We can expect that we may up to 12 Megabytes per minute of browsing. At €2,5/Mb, this means €30 per minute. Generally people browse on their mobiles for at least half an hour a day, this would make at least €900 for half an hour!
Juniper forecasts that the global average roaming data usage per user per annum will increase from around 500MB in 2017 to almost 1.6GB by 2022.
So far the picture painted by international telco company is ugly. In today’s age, internet is a basic necessity and telcos are taking undue advantage of their situation of power vis a vis their customers. They are ballooning by charging unreasonably high rates for internet data.
Enough about the problem! Now let’s talk about solution.
How it works
Our first advice for you would be to get a local sim card whenever possible. A number of reasons can make that difficult however:
- Not having time to go to the shop (e.g., when you land, the first thing people want to do is usually not to run to the cell phone shop)
- Not knowing where to go
- Not having the documentation (for instance in India, you need ID pictures and original copy of your visa.. Most people don’t know or forget to bring that with them)
- Long activation time (in many countries, a Sim card needs 48 hours to be activated)
Lack of provident planning explains why Telcos make so much money with roamings, and bizarre headlines like:
“San Jose Family Got A Bill For $13,000”
Even though travellers are surrounded by people who have near unlimited Internet access, they still have to pay roaming fees to access the Internet. Why not have cab drivers sell Internet access to their passengers for a start?
Let’s save, and earn
Locals can be enabled to sell their bandwidth to tourists thanks to the Blockchain. Several apps tried to achieve this, but the most advanced one is certainly Bytes, a spin-off from Imperial College London. A live demo of Bytes protocol can be found here:
This is how P2P internet can be set up between foreign travellers and locals. In the coming years as blockchain technology will go mainstream. Average mainstream customer will get the due freedom to use Internet data on their cellular phones.
Travelers pay roaming fees to access the Internet even though they are surrounded by people who have near unlimited Internet access. This starts in the cab from the airport to the city center… and continues everywhere you go. Particularly in the developing world. This creates a huge opportunity for an application like Bytes.