4/9/2008 11:48:00 AM
EU says operators' data services bills are 'too high'
Operators are under increasing pressure to slash the cost of data roaming, following numerous cases of customers racking up four-figure bills.
The cost to make calls and send texts abroad fell by 70% in June 2007 after the EU threatened networks with action.
However, with the popularity of dongles and internet-enabled handsets, the exorbitant cost of data roaming is under the spotlight.
BBC’s Watchdog has highlighted several cases including one where teenager Seb Belton ran up a bill for £9,737.12 on T-Mobile, after he downloaded updates for a computer game costing £7.50 per megabyte while on holiday in Austria.
T-Mobile acknowledged its charges were far too high and will be reducing its cost of data roaming by 80% in the summer from £7.50 per megabyte to around £1.50 per megabyte. A spokesman for the operator said: ‘We treat each case on its merits, and with this case we took a sympathetic view and the charges were waived.
‘Although we tell people what they will pay per megabyte, some people perhaps do not know how many megabytes they are likely to use.
EU commissioner for information, society and media Viviane Reding has repeatedly called for operators to slash data roaming charges, and the networks fear she will force their hands if they do not heed her words.
A 3 spokesman said: ‘Direct regulatory intervention at EU level can be a blunt instrument, but in our view it is almost inevitable if there is no action to actively reduce European roaming rates.’
He added: ‘The discrepancy between what people pay at home and what they pay when they roam is far too high. ‘The core issue is the expensive cost of the wholesale rates networks charge each other.’
Networks’ roaming costs
The current costs for data roaming on each network - it requires around 5MB to download a typical music track.
T-Mobile - £7.50 per megabyte
Orange - £6 per megabyte
3 - £3 to £6 per megabyte depending on where in the world
O2 - £7.05 per megabyte
Vodafone - £4.99 per megabyte