O2 slammed for soaring data roaming prices outside Europe

What Mobile
October 31, 2012

“Average cost for a laptop user will be £1,200 per day”

Smartphone rental company attacks “rip off” data roaming rates.

Tep Wireless, which rents smartphones and WiFi devices to travellers going oversea, has criticised O2 for ramping up its data roaming prices outside the next month to as much as £6 a megabyte in North America. From  November 28 O2 is changing the cost of calls and sending text messages when outside of Europe. New pay monthly charges in the USA and Canada will be £1.10 a minute for voice calls. 90 a minute for receiving calls, 40p for sending texts, and £6 for each megabyte of data. The costs are even higher for Asia and rest of the World.

“The cost per MB on roaming will cost an operator like O2 anywhere between 25 pence up to £2.50 per MB outside of the European union”, said Tep managing director Tomas Mendoza.

“This means O2 is enjoying a profit margin of up to 2,400% on every MB used by its customers. 1MB is just enough for sending between five and seven emails – to upload a picture you’ll probably need between two and three MB. Based on the average smart-phone daily usage of 30MB – a number that’s constantly increasing – the cost while overseas with O2 would be £180 per day. The average cost for a laptop user will be £1,200 per day and tablet will be £600 per day for 100MB a day. O2 is doing this simply because it can.

“The roaming market is now regulated within European mobile operators. But there is no cross-continental regulation or body with jurisdiction. It’s the ‘wild west’ where phone operators can charge what they want. Operators nowadays are struggling with the ‘triple whammy’ of falling SMS and voice traffic, and the EU roaming regulation. However, roaming outside of the EU is a clearly a source of growth.

“However, operators should drive prices lower to encourage the public to stay online when overseas – currently only six percent of travelers remain connected to mobile networks while abroad. The biggest rip-off nowadays is the cost to access the web while overseas. It’s all about data – not phone calls or text messages – because the average smart-phone user spends 80 per cent of their time on Internet related activities.”

The European Commission has capped roaming charges within the EU by up to 75 percent. But there are no controls on roaming charges levied outside of Europe.

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