While the industry has been distracted by the planned merger talks between Orange and T-Mobile UK, both firms have quietly slipped out details of huge price increases to their roaming charges when calling outside of the EU.
Regardless of the EU imposing price capping on voice, text and data charges when roaming within member states, Orange UK and T-Mobile UK have stated that the price increases - approaching 100 per cent, will take effect next month for calls made to non-EU countries, such as Switzerland. Calls to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will rise from between 55-75p per minute to a new cost of £1.20 per minute. Other countries will likely see their call rates increased by 10-20p per minute.
T-Mobile has blamed the unexpected price rise on the weak pound and rate hikes imposed by local service providers. It attempted to justify the tariff change because of the requirement to reduce the price of sending text messages within Europe, in line with price caps issued by the EU.
However, a recent study by Acision, the messaging company, claims that consumers are not using their mobiles abroad - in fact only 12 per cent used their mobiles as much overseas as when they were at home. Acision believes that this presents a massive opportunity for potential revenue growth for operators, and, if they are able to answer customers' fears and needs they can surely embrace it. The research highlighted that nearly two thirds of consumers were completely unaware of the charges associated with using their mobiles abroad while only 10 per cent felt they were being charged a fair price.
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Roamers outside Europe hit by price hike