22 May 2016 ~ 5 Comments

Free mobile roaming in the EU

Tesco Mobile and Vodafone have both announced free-roaming options in the light of the EU anti-roaming plans which have resulted in all roaming charges being reduced to €0.05 per minute, €0.02 SMS and €0.05 per MB. Roaming charges will be completely removed in June 2017.

Customers of Tesco Mobile who travel to Europe have been offered zero roaming fees for the summer. This means that both Pay as You Go and contract customers will be able to use their existing mobile tariffs for calls, texting and data usage. The scheme called ‘Home From Home’ applies to subscribers visiting any EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The offer will be available between 23rd of May and the 3rd of September.

Vodafone is offering its customers on their RED plan free EU roaming in 40 countries. The plan is similar to Tesco Mobile’s offering, except Vodafone also offers a monthly data allowance of up to 4GB while roaming. Customers will not be able to use all the data in their bundles when abroad since the EU data is capped and there are restrictions depending on the data plan a customer has. An 8GB RED Value bundle will give 2GB of inclusive data while a 12GB Red Value plan will give you 4GB of data. The downside of Vodafone’s offering is that it will only apply to new and upgrading customers signed up from the 6th of May. Existing customers will be disappointed to know that they will be excluded from this offer.

The announcements of free roaming will be welcomed by UK mobile users planning a summer holiday in EU countries.

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11 August 2014 ~ 3 Comments

Roaming charges gone by 2015

eu connections

Goodbye roaming charges? Following our recent story about the EU’s latest cut in roaming charges, there’s even more good news on the horizon for consumers travelling with their phones. Earlier this year, the European Parliament voted to completely abolish roaming charges throughout the EU. The measures will come into force on 15 December 2015.

The EU has been standing up against greedy mobile networks for several years now. It’s already brought in legislation over the last few years that have slashed costs for holiday-makers and businesspeople using their phones abroad.

The existing bill has already guaranteed 90% discounts on wholesale pricing of data and have seen call charges fall by about 50% for calls and texts.

Operators will no longer be able to charge extra when people use their phones in any of the EU’s twenty eight member states. This includes not only calls and texts but also mobile internet usage.

The new legislation states that customers will be given “the confidence to stay connected when they travel in the Union without being subject to additional charges over and above the tariffs which they pay in the Member State where their contract was concluded”.

However, mobile networks are up in arms about the changes as it means they’ll no longer be able to make obscene profit margins on travelling consumers. Excessive roaming charges have been an easy source of income for international communications conglomerates and, as people travel more and with the rise of data-hungry smartphones, they’ve been revelling in the easy money roaming fees allow them.

According to research conducted by the European Commission, UK mobile users paid over £100 million in roaming charges in 2013. This is despite the fact that the true costs are a tiny fraction of this and that most people turn off roaming to avoid being hit by huge fees.

Neelie Kroes, the European commissioner for digital affairs said:

“This vote is the EU delivering for citizens. This is what the EU is all about – getting rid of barriers to make life easier and less expensive. We should know what we are buying, we should not be ripped off, and we should have the opportunity to change our mind.”

However, the networks are already fighting back. Even the legislation is designed to open up greater economies of scale though industry consolidation and the prediction that they might only lose a tiny percentage of their revenues, a coalition of networks rhas warned that the cost of domestic calls could rise to pay for it.

Not content with years of easy money, operators and virtual networks including Three, Virgin Media, France’s Free and Italy’s FastWeb and CoopItalia have made threats of blackmail claiming that since this new bill bans one of their most profitable business practices, they could respond by sabotaging the roll out of 4G services.

The roaming coalition is hoping for an amendment before the bill passes its final hurdle this autumn, when it goes before the council of EU ministers.

What do you think? Are roaming charges still too high even after the EU’s price-capping intervention? Do you think it’s a good thing that they are being abolished altogether? And is it fair for networks to charge consumers more if they get cut off from this revenue stream? Let us know what you think!

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11 July 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Feel At Home expands free roaming

three roaming

A breath of fresh air in the mobile market – Three Mobile are pushing forward and expanding their Feel At Home scheme (previously covered here) which helps you save money when using your mobile abroad. Unlike the other mobile networks who have been greedily cashing in on exorbitant charges for using your mobile overseas, Three’s deal makes using your phone completely free in several countries as you can use your existing UK allowances.

To learn more about how to benefit from this amazing deal or to order a free SIM with Feel At Home no-cost roaming, click here.

Like many mobile operators, Three has business relationships with several foreign networks though its parent company (Hutchison Whampoa) and they have made the most of these to improve things for their customers while they are abroad. Feel At Home originally launched with USA, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Macau, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland covered by the deal. At the beginning of this month, they added France, Switzerland, Israel, Finland and Norway.

Even after the EU started helping consumers out by regulating the international market, we frequently heard tales of gargantuan bills caused by overseas roaming charges. With modern smartphones, it is easy to run up £100s in a few hours browsing the internet and even a quick call to loved ones back home can cost more than your hotel room for the night. Things are often significantly worse if you’re visiting countries not in Europe.

Three’s scheme means that you only have to pay the normal UK rates for making calls, sending texts or even browsing the web with your mobile data connection. This also means that if you have an inclusive allowances that provide a certain amount of minutes, texts or megabytes of data, these will still be usable when you roaming. So when you’re on holiday, you can use up your monthly allowance that would otherwise end up going to waste. And with many Three Mobile tariffs including unlimited data, the possibility of saving huge amount of money on roaming internet access are huge.

We think this is great news as, traditionally, roaming charges have hit consumers’ wallets hard. Most the time, the mobile networks have done little to make this any better and have happily pocketed profits they’ve been making. Now, it’s almost worth picking up a Three Mobile PAYG SIM if you’re going away to one of the countries listed for about a couple of weeks. Just be aware that if you are a PAYG customer you need to purchase an add-on to benefit from this and the SIM must have been active for 30 days before it will work.

Are you going on holiday this summer? Any where nice? And will you be taking advantage of Three’s Feel At Home while you’re away?

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