Image by Leeks via FlickrIt's a common story: holidaymaker uses the internet on their mobile phone whilst abroad then discovers that they have been charged hundreds of pounds for downloading too much data. Every year it seems that hundreds of travelers are caught out and end up paying huge amounts for what they thought was included in their regular bill. Whilst unlimited* data plans are now the norm most providers charge extra for using mobile internet overseas.
One British student studying abroad in Spain ran up a bill of €9,000 for just one month of data roaming while a German tourist reported being charged €46,000 for downloading a TV programme while holidaying in France. Last year, one Irish holidaymaker ran up a bill of €200 when using his iPhone as a satnav in France. Irishtimes.com
The EU has now stepped in and reportedly 'capped' roaming charges. The truth is slightly more complicated, usage will be limited to €50 after which the customer's connection will be cut off. The connection can be reinstated and higher or lower limits can also be chosen. £40 is still quite a lot to be spending on top of a standard monthly subscription. The maximum charge per mb is also being reduced from €1 to 80 cent.
Hopefully reductions in mobile roaming costs will continue to fall over the forthcoming years. Since 2005 costs have already fallen by 73% as internet use on mobile phones become more widespread. This is great news for consumers who are now used to having internet access at all times via smart phones.
Having an internet enabled phone abroad can be a real help particularly a if it's a smart phone with Applications. Being able to look up car hire information and see your location on Google Maps plus having applications such as the Lonely Planet guide makes things much more straight-forward. It's nice to know that you won't be shocked by an excessive bill on your return home.