Mobile users switch off to avoid roaming fees

8 Nov 2006

European mobile users believe that roaming charges in the EU are unacceptably high, a new survey published yesterday by the European Union reveals. Some 78pc of Irish people travelling in the EU turn their phones off when travelling because they believe the costs are too high.

Some 63pc of Irish people said they did not have a good idea of what they were being charged when roaming overseas.

The new survey shows that most European citizens believe the EU should step in to make sure that prices for making and receiving calls on mobile phones when travelling in other EU countries are not substantially higher than those at home.

Some 72pc of Irish people said they wanted the EU to ensure that prices for making and receiving calls on mobile phones when travelling in other EU countries are not a lot higher than those at home.

European mobile phone users continue to pay between €4 and €6 for a four-minute roamed call abroad, as shown by the European Commission’s website on roaming prices, which has been updated with the latest figures today.

In some cases, roaming prices for such a call can exceed €12.

The new figures show that Irish people calling home from Spain on their mobile phones pay between €2.36 and €5.96 for a four-minute peak-time call. They will pay between €2.36 and €3.96 for four minutes at peak time when somebody calls their mobile phone from Ireland.

An Irish customer roaming in Finland could pay up to €11 for a four-minute call, while calling Ireland from Malta on an Irish mobile phone could cost as much as €13.16 for four minutes.

Last July, an EU regulation that would cut the cost of using mobile phones abroad by up to 70pc was tabled by the European Commission.

The commission says it wants to ensure that prices paid by consumers for roaming services within the EU are not unjustifiably higher than those they pay for calling within their own country.

The new rules are being discussed with the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers and could come into effect by summer 2007.

“Excessively high prices restrict mobile usage while abroad. This hurts consumers, hurts European industry and it hurts Europe,” says Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

“Reducing roaming prices is not only a political responsibility of the European Commission but can also be an interesting business model, as demonstrated by some operators who have started to move in this direction in recent months with the introduction of special roaming packages.

“I call on all mobile operators to help tear down this last visible border in Europe’s internal market. It is not acceptable that the burden of international mobile roaming continues to be shouldered by ordinary citizens who pay standard tariffs.”

By John Kennedy