Posts Tagged ‘roaming’
There’s places in Britain where it is nigh-on impossible to get a connection on your mobile, which is preposterous seeing as so many of us rely on them for work, socialising and sending weird and threatening messages to complete strangers on Twitter.
Well, the government plans to kick mobile operators up the arse in a bid to improve their coverage. One thing that is being looked at, is rivals sharing their networks with each other. These connection blackholes are being referred to as ‘notspots’, which means that some places have coverage from some operators, but not all.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid: ”It can’t be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn’t prepared to let that situation continue.”
So what proposals are being offered? For starters, they want the national roaming mentioned earlier, where operators share their network. They also want to see infrastructure sharing where networks would be able to put transmitters on each other’s masts. They also want to bring in a ‘coverage obligation’, which would see networks agreeing to cover a certain percentage of the UK, but the operators would decide how to do it between themselves.
The government has given the industry, businesses and the public until 26th November to respond to their proposals.
However, there’s some resistance to these ideas. A leaked letter from Whitehall shows that Home Secretary Theresa May isn’t happy with this idea because roaming networks might make it difficult for the government to spy on people’s phone activity. Of course, what they’re saying is that they’ll find it hard to track criminals and terrorists, but we all know what that means.
The letter says: “[It] could have a detrimental impact on law enforcement, security and intelligence agency access to communications data and lawful intercept”, adding that more research is needed to ensure that this won’t make things troublesome for police to access information about calls and emails that is “crucial to keeping us safe”.
Of course, there’s some annoying elements to this for the phone-haver too. Roaming hammers your mobile’s battery and there’s a very strong chance that operators would include charges for anyone switching to another network. We’ll just have to wait and see what everyone has up their sleeves on this, but a solution that works for everyone is not something you should hold your breath about.
Three are now letting customers use their existing allowances in seven other countries – Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Republic Of Ireland and Sweden.
It won’t cost anything extra and is available for pay monthly, pay as you go, mobile broadband and business customers. While you’re in those countries, your calls, texts and data will all come out of your regular allowance and it won’t cost you to receive calls either. Data roaming on any network in the country that you’re in will be allowable.
It sounds to us as though this is perfect if you can get your hands on a cheap, unlocked phone, bang a PAYG sim card in there and away you go. Don’t forget to ring us from Vienna!
The new price caps will make the maximum cost of calling another EU territory 20p (€0.24) with the receiving a call costing no more than 6p (€0.07). Text messages can now cost no more than 7p (€0.08) to send or receive, which is decent enough.
These caps also apply to data usage, with the rate now set at 38p (€0.45) per megabyte, which is good news if you need to use Google Maps (or whatever) when you’re overseas.
There’s still work to be done, with the European Commission wanting to abolish all roaming fees within the EU. They want to create a single European telecoms market, and this seems to be their first steps in achieving that.
The vice president of the Commission said: “The EU has to be relevant to people’s lives. The latest price cuts put more money in your pocket for summer, and are a critical step towards getting rid of these premiums once and for all.”
“This is good for both consumers and companies, because it takes fear out of the market, and it grows the market.”
We all love Vodafone. And they are saving so much money in not paying UK tax that they are bound to be “giving something back” and making life for their UK customers a little bit easier. We’re all in this together remember.
Anyway, last month, Vodafone announced a shiny new Eurotraveller tariff for UK users, which would allow customers to “enjoy more value for money when using their voice, text and mobile internet whilst travelling in Europe.” The basic premise is that for £3 a day you can use your UK calls, text and data allowances, rather than paying shockingly expensive roaming rates. Sounds like a bargain huh? Sounds too good to be true? Sounds like some people are going to get shafted.
Avid Bitterwallet reader Matt contacted us (via our facebook page if you are that way inclined) to explain that, far from saving him money, Vodafone was proposing to increase his monthly charges many times over.
You see, what Vodafone failed to mention is that this shiny new Eurotraveller replaces the Passport scheme for calls and the DataTraveller scheme for data in Europe. The passport scheme offered access to free calls within your UK limits for a one-off call connection fee of 75p and DataTraveller gave 25mb of data a day for just £10 a month. You can still get some of these services on pay as you go.
Admittedly, if Matt was a chatty sort, then he may be better off paying £3 a day instead of multiple 75p connection charges, but Matt is actually very grumpy and hates talking to people (when abroad) unless absolutely necessary. What he does like, however, is emailing his many friends, using data of less than 25mb a day.
So Vodafone’s shiny new scheme will now cost Matt £90 a month (£3 a day for 30 days) instead of £10. Which is quite a difference. If Matt was going to Majorca for a week, perhaps he would just shake his head at the barely concealed sneaky price increase. However, as Matt is about to spend a European year abroad, this is somewhat a more painful issue.
So Matt tried to cancel his contract. After all, mobile phone companies can’t just go changing prices on you without giving you the option to cancel can they? Um.
The relevant section of Vodafone’s terms are as follows:
11b You may end this agreement by writing to us if:
• we don’t do something fundamental that we should have done under this agreement (for example, if there is a complete failure of the network for seven days in a row due to something we have done), within seven days of you asking us in writing;
• we tell you that there will be an increase in the line-rental charge (unless we increase line rental because of a rise in VAT) by more than the increase in the retail price index (worked out as a percentage) since the last line-rental increase and you write to us before the increase applies;
• we increase your charges in the UK which has the effect of increasing your total charges (based on your usage in any of the previous three months) by more than 10% and you write to us before the increase applies; or
• we change this agreement to your significant disadvantage including changing or withdrawing services (we will tell you if this is the case) and you write to us within one month of us telling you about the change. This does not apply if the change or withdrawal relates to services which you can cancel without us ending this agreement.
Vodafone have informed Matt that he cannot cancel under the 10% increase rule as that only applies to UK services. While Matt has a pretty hefty case that he has been put at a “significant disadvantage” by the changes, the clause specifically doesn’t apply to cancellable services. Like Euro/DataTraveller.
So it looks like Vodafone have stitched him, and others like him, up like a kipper, but did we expect anything less? Vodafone have claimed that they were obliged to revisit their Euro offering following the EU ruling on price caps for roaming charges. This is a lie- the EU themselves say “These price caps are the maximum permissible prices. Operators are free to offer cheaper rates: be on the lookout for better deals!”
We contacted Vodafone to ask for their comment. They didn’t have one.
Some people called The Digital Agenda team who work for the European Commission reckon that consumers are still paying too much in roaming charges.
Phone users currently pay three and a half times as much for roaming calls as they do for national calls, and mercifully, this issue seems to be being addressed by phone operators.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, says: ”Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges. The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and Internet browsing. The benefits will be felt in time for the summer break – and by summer 2014, people can shop around for the best deal.”
And these new rules will see network operators being able to access other networks which means prices can be regulated and prices can be lowered. This, of course, will see the telcos getting competitive with each other, which hopefully means something of a price-war.
Ofcom is supporting the EU Roaming Regulator BEREC who have proposed that these new rules be extended worldwide. Ofcom are taking it so seriously that, should the EU decide against looking at worldwide roaming protection, they’ll probably intervene all by themselves.
T-Mobile have become the latest mobile provider to stop using a phone abroad from being as potentially expensive as paying for back-street liposuction. They’ve brought in a new, capped mobile data plan for those of you who can still actually afford to travel anywhere beyond the end of your own street.
O2, Vodafone and Three have recently brought in similar revised plans, but T-Mobile’s have decided to make theirs more plentiful and complicated, covering the entire globe with their new ‘price plans’.
If you’re a T-Mobile user, you can get 3MB of data in the EU for only £1.00 but be warned, as the same amount of data will set you back £25 in places like Cuba and Brazil.
Back to Europe – if you’re going to pay £1.00 for 3MB, you might as well fork out £2.50 and get 10MB, or £10 for 50MB. The service is available to PAYG customers as well, with slightly different tariffs on offer. The new way of doing things begins tomorrow (Tuesday).
There’s been a lot of chat about roaming charges in recent months and soon, there is likely to be something of a price war between mobile operators as they aim to give you the best deal.
Not much use if you’re like most people and can’t be bothered going through the faff of changing what you use every time there’s a marginally better deal on offer elsewhere.
Either way, customers of Vodafone Eurotraveller now get access to UK price plans across Europe for an extra £3 a day.
For your £3 extra, you’ll be able to make calls, send texts and browse the web using your UK price plan with this bolt-on.
If you sign-up for the Vodafone Eurotraveller, you won’t be charged for receiving texts and phone calls while you’re in any country that falls into Vodafone’s Europe Zone. We’ve no idea which countries that encompasses, but if you sign-up for the service, you can ask. We’re not doing all the leg work for you, you lazy toad.
So what does it all mean? Vodafone says that a user who made three 10 minute calls, sends 10 texts to the UK and uses 15MB of mobile data would only be charged £3 plus their home price plan rather than £17 on its existing roaming price structure.
If you’re interested, call 5555 to opt-in. The £3 only gets charged when you’re actually abroad.
The EU have announced cuts on roaming data prices for mobile networks, saying that there needs to be a €0.70/MB limit on internet usage to save us all from horrifying surprise bills.
While we wait for everyone to cotton-on, O2 have decided to crack on with reacting to this decision, announcing a new roaming bundle called O2 Travel. The company are saying that this new tariff gives pay-monthly customers 25MB of data for £2 a day when abroad. If you pass the cap, there’s a you can buy the bolt-on again.
O2 have said that this new package is purely coincidental (yeah right) and that they didn’t need to change data tariffs or prices because they were already in line with EU requirements. Now, bear in mind that the website is still quoting £3/MB for PAYG customers which is five times the EU regulation price.
Either way, at least O2 have actually bothered to do something about roaming charges. Orange and Vodafone are still keeping quiet about their plans and Three, well, they’re still trying to work out how to get their users coverage in their own country, let alone a foreign one.
Ofcom (them again) are pushing for greater EU regulation in a bid to to tackle gigantic mobile phone bills.
In a statement, the regulator report that data is now the main cause of unexpectedly high bills and that international roaming caused most of the 1.4 million unpleasant surprises that occurred between April and September 2011.
The EU is already looking into this and passing more regulation in June, but Ofcom wants these rules applied to the rest of the world as well as at home.
If you’re travelling through Europe, you’re already supposed to receive advice on charges for voice, text and data services. Data is also capped at €50 and operators are required to send a text alert when the user reaches 80 per cent of that. At €50, you’ll be temporarily cut-off unless greater data is requested.
The EU is going to extend those rules in addition to bringing in a Eurotariff for roaming data. The details of that won’t come to fruition ’til April, but Ofcom are saying that, even if the EU doesn’t act, they’ll be asking UK operators to implement something similar.
In short, contract users will be able to opt-in to restricted use, so for example, you’ll be able to cap your usage at £30 a month and the operator will have to honour that with all the text warnings that you’re about to reach your limit and such.
Will the phone-companies now engage in an undercutting war, thereby fighting for customers by offering the cheapest deals? Watch this space.
It’ll still cost you several mortgage repayments if you so much as as look at your mobile while elsewhere in the world, but there’s good news for those out and about in Europe. The EU is continuing to force down the cost of calls made to and from EU countries.
Ongoing EU restrictions mean that from today, service providers are prevented from charging more than 32p per minute (plus VAT) for outgoing calls, and 10p per minute (plus VAT) for incoming calls. They’d actually love to charge you much more; the gradual reductions were introduced four years ago, and several UK operators have since attempted to challenge the ruling in the European Court of Justice. They were told to go away and get on with it.
There’s some possible good news on dat, tooa – the EU also reduced the wholesale rate of mobile data from 72p to 45p per MB, a 37.5% cut. Of course that’s just the wholesale price of what service providers charge one another for the use of their networks, but if the cost to the consumer was reduced accordingly, we’d be paying around £1.88 for a MB of data instead of £3. That’s unlikely to happen though, since networks aren’t bound by the regulations to lower the charge to consumers. Meh.
The T-Mobile cancellation saga is still rumbling on with the mobile provider still refusing to allow customers to cancel their contracts following the recent steep hike in international roaming charges, even though it seems blindingly obvious that the T-Mob don’t have a frigging leg to stand on.
Some of you have been using our template letters and are being stonewalled by T-Mobile’s refusal to back down over this one. If you’re serious about trying to cancel your contract, it’s probably well worth digging in and locking horns with them.
Out of the blue, we’ve received a fresh quote from a spokesperson at communications regulator Ofcom, which should help clarify how you can escalate your grievance with T-Mobile. Ofcom said:
“We are aware of the changes to T-Mobile’s roaming charges and we are looking into the matter to determine whether any further action is appropriate. In the meantime, you may find it useful to know that Communications Providers in the UK are required to implement and comply with an Ofcom approved independent Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme (ADR) for the resolution of disputes between the Communications Provider and its domestic and small business customers, in relation to the provision of public electronic communications services (where a small business is one with 10 or fewer employees/volunteers).
T-Mobile is a member of CISAS which is based at:
24 Angel Gate
London EC1V 2PT
Tel: 020 7520 3827
Fax: 020 7520 3829
If you have exhausted the T-Mobile complaints procedure and you remain unhappy, you should request that T-Mobile sends you a letter which outlines their final position. This is known as a ‘deadlock’ letter. Once you have received this, you will be able to take the dispute to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, in this case CISAS. You are also able to take your dispute to an ADR scheme if it remains unresolved after a period of 8 weeks after the date which you first complained.”
So there’s some fresh advice straight from the people who should ultimately be able to decide whether or not T-Mobile are going back on the complicated wording in their contract. We’ve got a feeling this one’s going to rumble on for a while longer yet. Keep us up to speed with how your battles with T-Mobile pan out…
Most everyone has heard by now that Vodafone is dropping roaming charges for phone calls and text for the summer. To get this service, you have to sign up to Vodafone Passport.
But if you plan to use data abroad, beware, as the data roaming rates are the same.
You might want to wait until July 1 when the ceilings for international roaming charges set by the European Parliament go into effect. After July 1, the most you’ll pay for mobile phone surfing in Europe is €1 per MB, or approximately 90p per megabyte of data. That is down from €1.68, which is approximately £1.50. In 2010, this figure will drop further to around 75p per megabyte, and in 2011, it will fall to 46p at current exchange rates.
But until July 1, Vodafone data access in Europe will cost you £5 per 25 MB on your phone. Data access in America and Australia will cost £15 per 25 MB on your phone. If you plan to use a laptop dongle to surf, double those rates.
But what about those with minimal Internet usage abroad?
Vodafone divides the world into three basic zones for calculating data rates. In Europe, which Vodafone designates as Zone 1, it’s 50p for every 100KB of data while roaming up to 1 MB, when the £5 rate goes into effect. For Zone 2, which is pretty much everywhere except Zone 1, it’s £1 for each 100 KB up to 1 MB, when the £10 rate takes over. There is also a Zone 3 that applies to remote locations, where it’s a flat £5 per megabyte.
Lesson for Vodafone customers to carry with you on vacation? Talk all you can, but remember that Vodafone’s data rates are not part of the Passport plan.
Vodafone scrap roaming charges for the Summer – wholesome caring goodness or cynical diversion tactic?May 14th, 2009 • 4 Comments
Either a Summer holiday means your frugal spidy-sense is more heightened than ever – you’re even more acutely aware of how many pennies you’re spending when not at home – or you don’t give two shits, the holiday starts as soon as you hit the airport and it’s beer and full English breakfasts all the way. So you’re either somebody who’ll switch their mobile off when they go abroad, fearful of service providers sucking the money out of your bank account with a cartoon vacuum contraption, or you’ll happily call and text home from Lineker’s Bar at three in the morning after your nineteenth Jägerbomb.
Well, good news for both the tight fisted and loosed lipped, but only if you’re on Vodafone; from June 1st, all roaming charges across Europe will be dropped. Woah there, cowboy. All? Pretty much – you’ll still have to pay for data, but otherwise a call or text from abroad to the UK will cost no more than it would if made domestically. All Vodafone Pay As You Go and Pay Monthly customers will benefit, as long as they’ve opted into the free Passport scheme.
The deal-breaker is a three month trial initially, to cover off the summer months. The cynic might say that’s a move to keep current owners tied into contracts and attract new customers during a period of massive activity on the smartphone front, which will see new handsets from Apple, Google and Palm rolled out. But given the offer is also open to Pay As You Go customers, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why you can’t pop a free Vodafone SIM card into an old handset and register for free roaming, while keeping your current provider or buying into the smartphone craze next month.
It’s the sort of deal that’ll appeal to the frugal, something more of us are becoming in these belt-tightening times; despite the number of minutes used rising by nearly a fifth, O2 has announced it’s struggling to make as much money per customer as we’re more likely to switch tariffs or not to upgrade our handsets. So Vodafone’s promotion will no doubt be welcomed by many this summer, and should put an end to those troublesome unexpected bills abroad.
Thanks to the prompting of Ofcom, you should soon be able to make an emergency call from your mobile even if you’re in an area where you can’t get a reception from your host network.
Right now, if you can’t get a signal, you can’t dial 999, a particular concern in remote areas where signal strength can flit between patchy and non-existant. But now the major mobile networks are joining forces to come up with a system that would enable your phone to ‘roam’ for a signal from another network and allow you to make that life or death call.
If trials are successful, Ofcom believe that the service will be in place by the end of the year. Although, if you ask us, it’s the kind of common-sense feature that ALL mobile networks should have had to deliver before they were granted their licences in the first place. So there.