The EU has been working on getting lower pricing for calls and data roaming across Europe for some time, and today 1st July 2012 a new set of charges including a €50 daily charge cap come into effect.
|Current and proposed retail price caps (excluding VAT)|
|Current||1st July 2013||1st July 2014|
|Data (per MB)||70 cents||45 cents||20 cents|
|Voice calls made (per minute)||29 cents||24 cents||19 cents|
|Voice calls received (per minute)||8 cents||7 cents||5 cents|
|SMS (per SMS)||9 cents||8 cents||6 cents|
While the price caps for different elements of a mobile service are welcome, it still means that a 20 MB app for your smartphone could cost £11.50 to download to your phone when abroad in the EU.
The various UK mobile operators are currently promoting a number of deals for using your phone abroad, and many of these revolve around a daily fee to get reduced prices, but be wary, as the clauses can include an opt-out from the €50 EU roaming cap and the per MB limit of 70 cents. For example Vodafone users can opt for a £3/day charge, that lets them make calls and use data at the same price as in the UK, using bundles minutes or data allowances. This will encourage people to leave data roaming enabled on their smart phone, and if you have no WiFi networks available, you might use up your bundled data allowance very quickly, and then run up high excess usage charges.
Orange offer a £3 per day data bundle, that buys you 30MB of usage, which opts you out of the €50 cap, and you are opted out of the per MB cost cap too, as they charge £3.07/MB for usage above 30MB.
three offers its Euro Internet Pass which for £5 a day allows you to use as much data as you like up until midnight (UK time). You have to remember to renew the pass each day, and apparently a text is sent before the previous pass expires.
O2 offers O2 Travel which is £1.99 a day, giving a 25MB bundle, but again excess usage charges will apply, but they cap you at £40 per day, you can opt for a higher cap of £120, which is apparently enough for 200MB of data.
T-Mobile offers Internet Travel Boosters, which last for 30 days, and cost from £1 for 3MB to 200MB for £35. Update 16:30 We made a mistake, the 20MB for £140 in original item referred to outside the EU, e.g. Belarus, Bolivia, Fiji and Tajikistan to name a few places.
The moral still seems to be, make sure where you are staying on holiday has WiFi available, and even if it costs €5 or €10 and you want to do more than read email and send a few tweets this may be the cheapest option for broadband on holiday. If you do elect for a roaming package from your mobile provider, do double check whether picking that package does opt you out of the EU limits before you leave the UK.