Saturday 3 December 2016

Phone users warned of €2,000 bill for two-week US break

Published 14/07/2015 | 02:30

There are massive variations in the costs of using your mobile phone outside the country depending on your network.

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An analysis of roaming charges carried out for the Irish Independent found that consumers can be hit with charges of up to €2,400 for moderate use of a phone over a two-week trip to the US.

But if they are on a different network the costs can be much lower, the research carried out by mobile phone tariff comparison app Killbiller.com found.

The analysis looked at the cost for typical usage of a smart phone over a two-week trip, in Britain, in Spain and the US.

It was assumed the user would send five texts a day, make 10 minutes of phone calls each day and use the likes of Facebook for just 20 minutes.

Within Europe, where there is a cap on roaming charges: the cost varies from €141 to just €2.99 over two weeks.

The survey looked at Vodafone, Three and Meteor, which between them have 90pc of the market here.

The results showed large differences in price across the different networks.

Dr Bart Lehane of Killbiller.com said: "Three is excellent value if travelling to the UK, but was the most expensive in Spain, and was extremely expensive if travelling to the USA, mostly due to prohibitive data rates.

"Vodafone was the cheapest for Spain and significantly cheaper than the competition for the USA. Meteor was most expensive to the UK, and was second in price for both Spain and the USA," he added.

For those who travel to the UK on a holiday or for business, being on the Meteor network proved the most expensive.

That network, which is part of Eircom, charges €52 for the two-weeks of mobile phone usage. This compares with just €2.99 from Three. When travelling to Spain, the typical user could end up being charged €141 with Three, but just €41 if they are on the Vodafone network.

But it was in the US that massive cost variations emerged, according to Dr Lehane, whose doctorate is in computing.

Irish startup Killbiller.com allows people to download a cost comparison app on their phone for free showing how much their network charges for their usage and what other networks would charge. Killbiller.com found that the typical user over a two-week period will end up with a "bill shock" if they are with Three, as the bill is set to hit €2,407.

Data accounts for more than €2,000 of this total cost.

Meteor charges will amount to €310, but with Vodafone the two-week use of a mobile Stateside comes to €41.

Roaming fees in the EU are regulated. This means that the most you can be charged is 23c per minute for calls, 25c per megabit of data and 7c per text message (including VAT).

The EU Communications Regulator has plans to abandon roaming charges within the EU in 2017, which will make calls from anywhere in the EU cost the same as calls in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Vodafone said its Red Roaming customers were able to use their data and minutes from their home package while abroad for a daily fee of €1.99 in the UK, €2.99 in the EU & USA and €4.99 in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and China.

Irish Independent

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