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Free Satnav Is Expensive Says Satnav Maker

Garmin, one of the last standalone manufacturers of Satnav, has published an interesting study that points to the hidden costs of using a smartphone with free satellite navigation software when travelling abroad.

The company, which is under increasing pressure from free competitors from Google and Nokia, made a trip from Calais to Paris with a HTC smartphone on an O2 PAYG contract and using Google Maps.

It found out that the cost of using mobile navigation for the 185-mile trip could be as expensive as £39 to download 13MB worth of data at £3 per MB. Arguably, data roaming charges apply should you navigate abroad but there are ways to circumvent these.

You could download the maps prior to your trip or you could buy one bolt-on package which costs £40 for 50MB for Europe. Some could argue that Garmin has vested interests in the study and that most people will use their Satnav to travel in mainland UK where data costs will be minimal or nil.

Garmin research comes a few weeks after Skobbler released the first free Satnav application for the iPhone in the UK and uses OpenStreetMap rather than expensive proprietary mapping data and surprise, surprise, covers Calais and Paris in France.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.