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The Traveller's Magazine
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These days it’s practically essential to use your phone abroad. Even more so if you’re travelling with a smartphone. Good news: roaming fees for British travellers in the EU are soon to be a thing of the past.

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Have you ever used your mobile phone abroad only to come home to the biggest phone bill of your life? We’ve all been there but that won’t be the case for long. British holidaymakers using their mobile phones abroad can expect cheaper bills as soon as this summer thanks to the European Union giving the thumbs up to strict price caps on mobile data roaming charges.

Bye bye outrageous roaming rates

Thanks to the new price caps, if you use your mobile phone abroad you won’t want to jump out a window from shock when you open the next phone bill. The “data cap” will take effect as of July 1st, 2012 and will ensure that travellers on holidays in Europe with smartphones be able to access email, interactive maps, social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter for a much cheaper rate.

Data rates

From July phone providers will only be allowed to charge customers 56p (70 cents) per megabyte of data (plus VAT). This is about 1/6 of what it is now. By 2014 the charge will drop to as little as 16p (20 cents) per megabyte. Not only that, but consumers will be able to choose their roaming provider by 2014, much like the way you can choose your Wi-Fi network. The European Commission hopes this will create a more roaming-friendly continent as more and more people use their smartphones while travelling.

Call and text rates

The cost of mobile phone calls and texts is also dropping this summer. From July you can expect calls to cost a maximum of 29 cents a minute to make, and 8 cents a minute to receive (plus VAT). Texts will cost 9 cents each. Currently British travellers in Europe pay 35 cents a minute to make a call, 11 cents a minute to receive one and 11 cents to send a text message.

With competition on the rise, we can expect these charges to drop even more in the next year or two. Next time you’re abroad, don’t wince when you want to check your email or check-in on Foursquare!

Do you use your smartphone while you’re abroad? Have you ever be deterred from using your phone abroad because of the costs?

Img: bredgur / Flick cc.

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One response to “Extortionate EU roaming fees soon to be a thing of the past

  1. When I’m going abroad, I switch my phone off as soon as I get on the plane because I just don’t want to get stung for unexpected costs! It’s a real shame as I use my phone a lot in the UK and it would be handy to use abroad too, to find a restaurant or check a map…this is welcomed news 🙂

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