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back to article Eurocrats mandate maximum charge for data roaming

From today, Europe's mobile phone networks must work with customers to prevent the use of mobile broadband while travelling from costing the Earth. Roaming rules put in place by the European Union's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in June 2009 oblige O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Vodafone and others …

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Unforseen consequences

Suspect (as some articles on new roaming rates here already suggest) that the result will be that mobile networks will implement this by setting the cut-off at £0 and offer to sell you access at at a "per day/week" rate with a bundled data allowance. So, if you away for a week and wanted to be able to occasionally lookup something on a website then you may end up having to spend £30 on a 7-day 30MB bundle when in reality you only wanted to be able to download a few 100k on 2 or 3 days during the week.

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Pirate

Bah

local provider charges 1€ per MB. My wife managed 50€ in one w/e at home. New phone, tried it out, downloaded 2 games, and that was it. It isn't just when roaming that consumers need protection from these sharks.

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Anonymous Coward

Erm?

So you didn't make sure you got mobile data included in your tariff, even for UK use?

Much as I am loathed the be anything less than in wonderous awe of any Reg reader, I am a bit perplexed by your apparent lack of nous.

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Depends on the place

My wife has a Voda contract with data in Spain. It costs her less to check her email using O2 pay and go, *roaming* than to use her Voda Spain contract in Spain.

Much as you may hate tarrifs for data (or broadband) in the UK, I would jump at them here. I'm even considering getting satellite braodband froom UK to reduce my broadband bill !!

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Another clever idea from Brussels...

Yet another piece of good legislation coming out of Brussels... Who would have thunk it?

First they protect our privacy, now there passing regulations ot protect consumers... If this keeps up people might start believing that being part of Europe is a good thing after all... (but dont tell the politicians!)

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Agreement?

Any ideas how this agreement is going to be made? How pro-active they going to be about seeking it?

Is it going to be a letter and form to fill in for all of us, or do we all have to know this is taking place and ring up ourselves?

Also, I don't know about you, but €50 extra on my bill would certainly give me 'bill shock'.

€8000 would be a 'bill myocardial infarction'.

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Things are getting better.

When I first got my contract (under 3 years ago) the data roaming charge for Europe was £7.50 per megabit (or megabyte, not sure as T-Mobile didn't appear to know the difference in the documentation) -- now it's "only" £1.50. That said it would be nice to get it free as I do in the UK.

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Downloading a movie....

If your going to download an 800Mb movie when abroad, you deserve to be hit with a £4k bill!!!!

nipping down to asda's to buy a fireproof coat

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Re: Downloading a movie

There are more subtle ways of pulling many megabytes down the wire. I won't mention Flesh on web pages, coz that's too easy, but most web-sites *are* horribly bloated in their own way. Most seem to have been written by arts students who tested their latest "creations" on the company LAN before deploying to customers who are expected to be on "uncapped" umpty-megabit broadband.

Of course, that assumption hasn't been too wide of the mark for the past ten years. We've been living in a short interlude between "everyone going from dial-up (payg) to broadband (always-on)" and "everyone switching from desktop to mobile devices". Perhaps the uptake of iPhones and Apple's renunciation of Flesh (oh, there I go again) will encourage the pony-tails to design leaner sites in the next few years.

I know most browsers let you disable various things on the client-side, but that's a rather blunt instrument and tends to make the whole web-site unusable.

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But seriously...

Which of the networks is going to be the first to have a pan-European tariff ?

Let's face it, the main players pretty much have their fingers in every country. OK, I know it's seen as a cash cow, and nobody is desperate to cut their own profits, however perhaps more users would uses a little data at a respectable margin for the network if they knew there wasn't a danger of a €50 bill. And being the good network can only be good for business.

Go on - which network has the balls to set the trend .....

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Grenade

They're all neutered

None of them will have the balls to do as you suggest because they are all pissing in the same pot. I always find it better to buy a SIM in the country in which I am in and use 'local rates'.

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Re: But seriously

"Which of the networks is going to be the first to have a pan-European tariff ?"

I noticed the other month that 3 used to (slightly) offer that - if you used another country's 3 network (not an affiliate - and I believe there were only a handful of countries that had one), data and voice all came out of your regular allocation and at normal home cost. So while quite limited, a step in the right direction. However it appears they scrapped this scheme sometime last year and are now back doing the same roaming ripoffs as every other network.

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It's getting there...

A few networks (T-Mobile and O2 off the top of my head) offer Europe 'add-ons'. Eg. with T-Mobile, for an extra fiver a month you get X Europe minutes added to your allowance (it's not much, but still cheaper than pay-as-you-use).

There's a way to go yet, but there's been a marked move in that direction, especially since these new roaming limits came into force.

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Orange

Orange has just introduced various bundles - see a story here recently. The best value is the business roaming data bundle, at £7 per day (plus VAT) for up to 50Mb in most Europe. In theory, once it's added to your account, then that's all you'll pay for any day when you use data, up to the 50Mb, when the usual price applies. So if you use the whole amount, it's 14p/Mb, and as long as you use more than about 3Mb, you should be better off than usual.

That's the theory; however, it's such a new option that when I used it last month, their billing system completely screwed up and charged me for 51Mb of data over 3 days at the full price, instead of just £7 per day - around £110 plus VAT more than it should have done.

If you think you've found a good deal on mobile data, check your bills carefully...

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Why Risk it?

The first thing that I do with a new or recycled handset is enter false data for the web access(es) so that there can be no way to access the network operators private goldmine. It really keeps the unwanted shocks at bay.

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So how do you access your email?

How do you view web pages? How do you connect to the internet to get new maps?

Some of like to be able to use the internet without resorting to internet cafes or hotel wireless.

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local tariffs?

What about doing something for local tariffs as well? I have a connection that tops at 500 megabytes per month, after which I pay the usual insane data tariff. Since I have no way to know how much data I used at any given point, I'm scared shitless of doing stuff like downloading video or software updates or whatever, because I could unknowingly pierce the 500 megs limit.

I'd suggest that the same rule should also be applied to local tariffs. Even better, customers with a flat plan should be warned when reaching 80%, and disconnected (instead of charged an arm and a leg) when they reach 100%.

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Anonymous Coward

I carefully log

All my local Three dongle sessions in a spreadsheet with a monthly running total. The connection software shows usage. So does Three's relevant page, but rather often it doesn't work for me.

In November/December I downloaded a Linux DVD and nearly maxed the 3 GB/month account. Phoned them to discuss staying connected at non-silly price and accepted an offer of 15 GB a month for two years at the same price plus 15 GB credit now. Had already seen other customers offered 5 GB for the price of my 3 GB but felt pretty good about this.

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Anonymous Coward

massive price increases

The prediction in the first reply comment may already be true.

I was reading elsewhere (newsgroups) of someone who has been on Virgin for a while, roamed abroad before with modest data use, but this time in France could get no access at all, and received text messages asking for subscription to £4 hourly or £6 daily bundles.

I'm not against the idea of a daily bundle. Provided it's a nice price

I understand that last year, for a few weeks, Virgin was charging 30p a day for data roaming, up to 25 MB.

But perhaps they didn't know that at the time. Perhaps even the networks can have bill shock.

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Why is there a difference at all?

Can anybody explain why there should be any difference in cost because the data has crossed a national boundary?

Can anybody explain why voice data should cost any different to data data?

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The channel

Obviously, it's the English Channel that causes us problems; the networks have to take special measures to make sure the packets don't get soggy on the way back here when we're roaming.

Judging by the price, each packet is lovingly conveyed across the channel by a golden cherub, on a silk cushion. And if it's not, I have no idea what we're paying for.

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Small potatoes but sentiment appreciated...

£8000 bill shock? I'm the bloke that got a £31,500 bill. That was out of the realm of shock and into the realm of fantasy. The real story behind that never really came out but the bottom line was that I downloaded about 900mb worth of data but their systems logged me downloading over 9gb. They played hardball and wouldn't listen to reason till Otelo got involved. If I'd bent over and taken it, I'd still be making payments on my deathbed. No way to treat consumers. If you ask me its the companies that do the consuming.

But back to the subject at hand. The companies involved will still find ways to nail roamers one way or another but I second tebiru's post when I say that its a breath of fresh air for politicians to side with Joe Public over the faceless blah, blahs once in a while.

More power to Europe because the UK government don't seem to represent anyone other than themselves from what many of us can, see, touch, taste, feel, smell.

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