May 08, 2007 04:00 ET

Research From Truphone Finds Roaming Charges Set to Remain Too High, say 39% of Mobile Users

Four out of five of us don't know what it costs to use a mobile phone abroad

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - May 8, 2007) - Almost four in every ten of us will still feel cheated by mobile phone roaming charges even if the EU parliament votes tomorrow to reduce them by 70%, a survey by Truphone has revealed. One in eight of us say that even the dramatic reduction proposed will keep charges at "rip-off" levels, while a further quarter say that such charges will "still be expensive". Only 11% say the proposed reduction will make roaming charges "cheap".

However, while 37% think the proposed reduction will make roaming charges about right, no level of reduction will increase the transparency of these charges for the huge majority of phone users. A staggering 44% confess to having "absolutely no idea" how much it costs to make or receive mobile phone calls while abroad, while a further 37% join them in not knowing how much using their phone abroad costs until the bill arrives.

A lot of us stand to benefit from any belated reduction in roaming charges. During 2007 more than a third of us will use our UK mobile phone while on holiday in the EU, and 6% will use it while travelling on business in the EU. But a successful vote tomorrow will do nothing to lower the roaming charges faced by the 16% of us expecting to use our mobile phone outside the EU this year - and will possibly have the knock-on effect of increasing charges for calls made and received outside the EU as the operators look to recoup lost revenue.

James Tagg is CEO of Truphone, a mobile internet network operator, whose customers make mobile phone calls over the Wi-Fi and the Internet without incurring roaming charges. He said: "If the EU votes for cheaper roaming calls tomorrow, it will still be too little for most of us: reducing an outrageous sum by 70% still leaves a large sum. It also does nothing for the millions of us that enjoy using SMS messages to stay in touch.

"And the operators clearly ought to be a lot more communicative, as their customers still won't know if they need to budget for taking their mobile on holiday as if it is an extra family member."

"The best news for mobile phone users is that while, in the short term, any ruling to force the operators to reduce roaming charges will be a victory for most people, in the near future both EU legislation and the operators' positions will be overwhelmed by new mobile phone technologies that do away with roaming charges. These are available now and use the Internet to carry mobile phone calls, making many mobile phone calls worldwide as free as email," he added.

"The most important thing to which the EU could now turn its attention is ensuring that innovation in mobile services is promoted and that a 'level playing field' is provided to new entrants, who will instil price pressure through innovative use of technology."

Editors' notes

The survey was commissioned by Truphone ( and carried out by independent market research company GfK NOP. A total of 780 UK nationally representative mobile phone-owning adults aged 16+ were questioned on April 28th-29th 2007 via telephone.

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