300 million extra customers for telecoms companies when roaming charges end, survey shows

app94% of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of services like Facebook, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens.

The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies, with negative effects for other businesses such as app makers.

At the same time as booming use of mobile at home, especially use of mobile data, other effects of roaming premiums include:

• 47% would never use mobile internet in another EU country.

• Only 1 out of 10 would use e-mails in the same way as at home

• More than a quarter of us simply switch off our mobiles when we travel in the EU

• Millions divert to SMS rather than pay for calls

Frequent travellers – the most lucrative section of the potential market – are more likely to switch-off their mobile phone data roaming capabilities than the occasional travellers. The Commission believes this is because frequent travellers are better informed about the real costs of data roaming in Europe than less frequent travellers.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said:

“I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges. Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies either.

“It’s not just a fight between holiday-makers and telecoms companies. Millions of businesses face extra costs because of roaming, and companies like app makers lose revenue too. Roaming makes no sense in a single market – it’s economic madness.”

While Europe’s app economy is booming barriers like roaming charges put a brake on parts of this new sector. Travel guide, photo and map apps are particularly negatively affected.

And consumers are not just limiting their mobile use when abroad. At home, 70% of people who call other EU countries limit these calls for cost reasons.

Calling in the EU the survey commissioned by the EC shows that 28% of those who travel in the EU switch off their mobile phone when going to another country.

Only 8% of travellers use the phone abroad in the same way as at home making a phone call. 3 out of 10 never phone when being on a trip in another country.


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