The European Commission (EC) today said Europe’s mobile operators are losing out on business from 300 million customers by charging roaming premiums within the EU.
The claim, made in a new study, is part of the EC’s continuing drive to end EU roaming charges.
Mobile phone operators have fought against EU attempts to cut roaming charges but today’s study suggests telcos are actually losing out by charging too much.
According to the research, 94 percent of the 28,000 European mobile users surveyed turn off their internet services when travelling abroad.
Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would never use mobile internet in another EU country and only one in ten said they would use email services in the same way they use them at home while abroad.
The research also revealed that over a quarter (28 per cent) of European mobile users switch off their handsets while travelling abroad within the EU.
The EC claimed that frequent travellers are most likely to turn their phones off as they’re more aware of roaming costs.
The EC also suggested that roaming charges act as a barrier to internet usage and are likely to have a negative impact on technology businesses, particularly those behind mobile apps.
“I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges. Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies either,” said European Commission VP Neelie Kroes.
“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.”
Last July the EU introduced new laws that meant telcos could not charge more than €0.45 + VAT to download a MB of data. In July 2014 this is set to fall to €0.20.
The cost of calling and texting while abroad has also been cut. Making calls now costs a maximum of €0.24 + VAT per minute, while receiving a call costs €0.07 cents per minute, and sending a text message costs €0.08.
In a bid to attract more customers, some mobile phone operators are eliminating roaming charges altogether in certain countries. For example, Three announced last September that it was eliminating roaming costs in seven countries, while AT&T signed a deal with Canadian operator, Rogers, in a move that meant AT&T subscribers in the US could get LTE in 120 Canadian cities.