I was in Germany for a couple of days last week and so had my mobile phone with me. However, not wanting to get hit for data costs, I decided to turn off location services, notifications, except for gmail, and also turned off data roaming, deciding to only turn on the data occasionally. This I did. I checked my email once , twitter once, Facebook once and updated Foursquare a few times. That was it. Despite this I reached 02’s ‘you’ve spend £40′ warning very quickly. WTF? To be fare, I made to error of not turning off the auto-download email to the phone, which happened a couple of times when I switched on data. That said I was still gobsmacked at just what a bunch of rip-off merchants 02 are.
Why do I say this? Well, I spent 10 days in Germany last summer on T-mobile and spent much less. Why? Well let us look at the roaming charges of the big four.
02£3.07 per Megabyte. Text you when spend £20, and £40, after which point you can used up to 50 mb without further charge of getting cut off. 02 used to offer ‘bolt-on’s’ to make things better value for money but now just do a ‘we’ll charge you 40 for 14MB, and then give you the next 36 free’.
My old mobile provider, offer you a choice of deal when you switch on your phone abroad
Euro Internet 3MB £1 3MB to use in a day
Euro Internet 20MB £5 20MB to use in a week
Euro Internet 50MB £10 50MB to use in a month
So on T-Mobile you can use up to 6mb more than 02 charge for £40 for just £5, and if you want to go up to 50mb, it’s still only £20. Half the price.
They offer a deal for £2 a day for 25MB (midnight to midnight, UK time) in Europe, with their standard costs for Europe of – £1 a MB up to 5MB, then £5 for every 5MB after that
[Remember that T-mobile and Orange are now part of the same company, Everything Everywhere] They have a straight charge of £3.07 pr megabyte or £3 day or £15 month for 30MB
So, currently, if you want to use your phone abroad for data – and can’t find free wi-fi – you better hope you’re a T-Mobile customer, and certainly not an 02 customer.
The Good news is that from 1 July 2012, the European Union’s mobile roaming regulation will be extended to include price caps for data downloads. What this means is mobile operators will not be allowed to charge more than Euro 70 cents per Megabyte (MB) to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used), plus VAT.
What than should mean in practice is all the operators coming down to what T-Mobile has already essentially been offering per megabyte for about 9 months on its deals, but as a standard rate. By 2014, prices will be cut further with the maximum costing no more than 20 cents per Megabyte, plus VAT.
The Commission also wants to introduce roaming competition, meaning that in future, if I was abroad, I could have choosen to use T-Mobile for my data service on holiday despite being an 02 customer.
Hopefully, the days of the ‘taking the piss’ data rip offs are about to end.