300m customer bonanza for European telcos when roaming charges are dumped

17 Feb 2014

Europe’s telecommunications industry is going to experience a potential windfall of close 300m switched on customers this year when roaming charges are finally brought to an end, the European Commission said today. Some 94pc of European mobile users turn off their internet sevices when travelling abroad.

For years, telecom companies battled against EU attempts aimed at ending the exorbitant charges that made holiday-making a costly headache for many consumers.

But now it is being suggested that the telcos will benefit the most when roaming charges are killed off.

Some 94pc of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of online services, such as social media, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens.

It was revealed that 35pc of Irish mobile customers switch off the data-roaming capabilities of their mobile phones or smartphones when visiting another EU country. Forty-six per cent of Irish mobile customers never check or send emails, without access to Wi-Fi, when visiting another EU country.

Economic madness

The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300m phone users because of current pricing strategies, with negative effects for other businesses, such as app makers.

At the same time as the booming use of mobile at home, especially use of mobile data, other effects of roaming premiums include: 47pc would never use mobile internet in another EU country, only one out of 10 would use emails in the same way as at home, more than a quarter simply switch off their mobiles when travelling in the EU, and millions divert to SMS rather than pay for calls.

“I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges,” said European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.

“Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies, either.”

“It’s not just a fight between holiday-makers and telecoms companies. 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.”

Ski holiday image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years