Ahead of plans to scrap call roaming charges completely in 2014, the European Union’s pressure on mobile networks has resulted in big reductions from this morning. Calling home while visiting another European country now costs no more than 24 cents a minute while receiving a call (which is always free on a home network) is capped at 7 cents. Texts are now down to a maximum of 8 cents.
Mobile data, capped at 45 cents per megabyte, is still expensive (€450 a gigabyte espensive) and travellers still need to exercise caution. Fortunately, most networks impose a daily limit of between €40 and €50 to protect the unaware. Data roaming is down from 70 cents (€700 per GB) to 45 cents from today and is due to drop further to €200/GB in 2014. Before the EU stepped in, roaming data cost an eye-watering €6/MB or €6,000/GB. Horror stories of YouTube-addicted holidaymakers prompted the Union to act.
It is disappointing that data will still be at a premium when call roaming charges are scrapped in 2014. I can see no reason for this and it should be the next focus for the EU.
In fairness, some networks already offer good deals for travellers. Vodafone in the UK has one of the best schemes with its Vodafone Passport. Once you are signed up, a simple charge of £3 per day is incurred if roaming is enabled in a foreign country. The good thing is that this single charge effectively allows full use of a UK plan, including all calls, texts and data, without surcharge. I have been using it extensively this year and it avoids the need for local SIMs unless I stay in a country for more than a couple of weeks.
I still maintain a local contract in Greece at a cost of €420 a year, mainly for convenience but also because it has so far worked out cheaper. However, with Vodafone Passport I would have to spend more than 120 days a year in Greece to make the local contract cost-effective. It is now costing me more than I would have to pay in Vodafone roaming charges.
We are making progress, but I will not be satisfied until I can roam around Europe with my local plans without incurring extra charges.
Outside Europe, Vodafone Passport charges £5 per day for 25MB of data. Phone calls and texts are not included in this package. ↩