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Mobile roaming shock

29th May 2013 Print

British holidaymakers heading abroad this summer could collectively be stung with eye-watering mobile roaming charges of £256million, according to research from price comparison and switching service,
Those holidaying within the EU are protected from high mobile roaming charges and, from July 1 this year, mobile networks will be forced to cap roaming charges within EU countries even further. The new caps will mean it costs just €0.24 per minute to make calls, €0.07 per minute to receive calls and €0.08 to send a standard text message.
Those who love using the interenet on their mobile will also enjoy greater protection from high bills as data charges are set to be capped at a lower rate of €0.45 per MB, as well as a €50 cap on overall data usage. These limits are also set to drop further in 2014. But it is a different story for those travelling outside the EU - even within Europe - who will still be vulnerable to high charges.
As well as there being no caps further afield, a big problem is that many holidaymakers don't realise when they're setting foot outside of the EU. Almost half (48%) incorrectly think that Croatia - a popular destination for those looking for sun, sea and island hopping - is part of the EU. Norway, Switzerland and Iceland also throw people, with 45%, 36% and 32% respectively believing these countries are in the EU. And almost a third (30%) wrongly reckon that Turkey is an EU country. Considering that Istanbul is number eight in the UK's top 10 favourite destinations this year, some bill payers could be in for a nasty shock.
In fact, Brits flying to Turkey for seven days this summer could chalk up a £281 mobile phone bill just by making and receiving two five-minute calls, listening to a two-minute voicemail message, sending five text messages and two photo messages each day.
But it's the cost of data that could really get mobile users burnt. 1MB of internet data - just about enough to view a couple of web pages and update your status on a social network - costs an average of £4.75 across the five major networks. Data-hungry smartphones are more popular than ever and a seven-day data bill - just based on a modest amount of video streaming, emailing, browsing websites and using VoIP services like Skype to keep in touch - could hit £294 if mobile users don't keep their phone's data roaming switched off and use free local Wi-Fi instead. That means someone who wasn't clued up about roaming charges could quite easily face a mobile bill totalling £575.
Despite the fact that almost nine in ten (86%) think that roaming charges are too high, almost six in ten (59%) admit they won't check roaming costs before they jet off this summer. And 44% plan to keep their phones switched on and not limit their usage while almost a fifth (17%) fail to switch off data roaming in their mobile settings when overseas.
But many believe the onus shouldn't be on them. More than three quarters (76%) think that money-saving roaming bundles should automatically be added to their deal when they leave the country. Seven in ten (70%) say their networks have never contacted them about roaming deals.
This year two thirds of Brits (66%) will travel inside the EU and benefit from roaming caps, leaving three in ten (29%) vulnerable to bill shock. Those holidaying in Asia or Non-EU Europe rack up the biggest roaming bills (£242 and £186) but more than one in 10 (12%) EU holidaymakers have still managed to rack up high bills.
Ernest Doku, technology expert at, says: "Holidaymakers need to add ‘check roaming charges' to their pre-holiday to do lists. Talking to your network before you jet off will very likely spare you a nasty post-holiday bill shock, as they may be able to advise a bundle, or at the very least let you know the costs involved with using your phone abroad.
"Not knowing which countries are in the European Union could cause havoc for mobile users this summer. A third of us know about roaming caps, but if those people don't realise that summer sun destinations like Turkey or Croatia aren't in the EU, they could wrongly think they are protected from roaming charges.
"Limit the damage by keeping data roaming switched off as much as possible. And, when it comes to calls and text messages, the best way to keep costs down to a minimum is to buy a local SIM card, put it in your phone and top it up. If you want to use the internet, wait until you can get Wi-Fi at a hotel or café."