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Roaming charges in Europe are "economic madness"

by Mark Tyson on 18 February 2014, 13:00

Tags: European Commission, PC

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A recent survey by the European Commission, involving 28,000 people across the EU, has suggested that more than a quarter of European visitors simply turn their mobiles off when travelling in the EU - to avoid roaming charges.

Almost half of those surveyed never data roam

The European Commission has also calculated a market of around 300 million mobile users telecoms companies are missing out on due to current pricing strategies - as 47 per cent of travellers would never use mobile internet in another EU country, according to the survey.

"It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges. Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies either," said VP of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, adding that she was shocked by the figures. "Millions of businesses face extra costs because of roaming, and companies like app makers lose revenue, too. Roaming makes no sense in a single market - it's economic madness," Kroes opined.

The survey suggested that the roaming charges barrier also has a negative effect on the app economy with travel guides, photo and map apps in particular. In addition 94 per cent of people surveyed also avoided using Facebook and Twitter when in an EU country other than their own.

Interestingly, the survey found frequent travellers to be more likely to switch-off their data roaming capabilities than occasional travellers. The Commission believed this is due to frequent travellers being better informed about the real cost of data roaming.

Recent efforts by the European Commission have resulted in an 80 per cent retail price reduction in calls and SMS in the region. Data roaming is apparently up to 91 per cent cheaper. However that isn't enough to change people's roaming reaction behaviour.

France leads the way

The European Commission notes that in France companies have begun to offer phone plans which work all around the EU for a single price, ending roaming premiums.

Looking ahead, the Commission's Connected Continent initiative plans to scrap roaming charges completely by 2016, aiming to achieve domestic rates for customers in the EU while travelling throughout the Union by a combination of regulatory obligations and market incentives. The proposal must be approved by the 28 EU members and European lawmakers before being put into effect.

HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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good. Finally some sense! The sooner they end this roaming charge BS the better.

Let's hope they do the same re banks charging fees for withdrawing money from a foreign cash machine/using credit card abroad.
AFAIK 3 is the only network which allows you to use your contract allowance in many countries:

A bit of a non-event article to me… Firstly, it's mainly about data roaming so the title is a bit misleading. Secondly, it only mentions the recent drastic reduction in cost in one sentence at the end.

The reality is, mostly you are using a different companies phone network when overseas or in the EU. You can't expect your home phone network to cover the cost, just like if you are in a poor signal area in the UK, the other networks don't cover it.

It also mentions people not using Twitter and Facebook while abroad. Try asking how many people would use mobile data to check these if it wasn't included in your contract and you would get similar results.

Overall, I feel most of this article is pretty obvious. Perhaps one day there will be reciprocal agreements between the phone companies like there are between the UK banks but the reality is, I wonder if there is enough incentive for them to do this and certainly not without the EU pushing for it.

p.s. There are a lot of countries in the world where you have to pay to use a cash point from different banks.
…The reality is, mostly you are using a different companies phone network when overseas or in the EU. You can't expect your home phone network to cover the cost, just like if you are in a poor signal area in the UK, the other networks don't cover it.
That needn't really be the case though. All of the UK physical networks have parent companies that run numerous networks across the globe so it's entirely possible to stay within your own brand across.

See the following image for where in the world vodafone operate.


orange isn't quite so many


but then T-mobile is also part of the ‘EE’ network


how about 02


Three are the only ones not to have a global map of operations but they have a presence in quite a few countries.

Interestingly the I was recently in Portugal and the only vodafone have a presence out there.
If they offered roaming packages at reasonable prices i would happily buy them. At the moment its like they just don't want you to use your phone abroad.