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Telecoms companies ‘missing out’ on 300 million customers due to roaming charges

Roaming charges were labelled as "economic madness" by the Vice President of the European Commission after a survey revealed more than a quarter of Europeans switch off their phones when travelling abroad.

According to the survey of 28,000 European Union citizens, 94 per cent of those travelling outside of their country limit their use of services like Facebook as a result of roaming charges.

This accounts for a market of around 300 million phone users.

The EC suggested that the current pricing strategies of telecoms firms were resulting in negative effects for both themselves, as well as other businesses such as app makers.

"It's not just a fight between holiday-makers and telecoms companies," said EC Vice President Neelie Kroes. "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."

Almost half of all those questioned said that they would never use internet on their mobiles in another EU country, while 28 per cent of travellers switch off their phone entirely.

"I am honestly shocked by these figures," Kroes said. "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."

Those more likely to limit their phone and data usage are understood to be frequent travellers who better understand the costs involved of using their phones abroad.

Related: Increased 4G-LTE uptake to push data roaming revenues past $40bn

Since the EU introduced price caps in 2008, there has in fact been a 1,500 per cent increase in data roaming across the continent.

A new legislative proposal aims to further reduce the costs of roaming in order to benefit both mobile operators and customers by 2016.