back to article You think mobile voice is expensive?

The issue of mobile pricing can be something of a sore point in the business environment, and it's one that we're exploring through our Reg reader poll. We'll be reporting back on it a little further down the line as part of this workshop. But of course there are different aspects to pricing, and based on the feedback we’ve seen …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There'll be no end to "unlimited"

    Perhaps the telcos want to return to a per-byte pricing, but the handset manufacturers won't play ball with that. So many devices and features are now based around the software being able to use web services or other web data without user intervention to keep up to date. They all expect to be able to get that data without the user's distinct permission each time, which is granted because the user knows they're not going to get stung for extra costs. If people end up on cost-per-byte contracts, then they're going to shy away from modern smartphones that have the capability of running up huge bills whilst they're asleep.

  2. JohnG

    Local SIM

    If I want to use mobile data or voice in any country, I buy a local SIM. A few countries make this difficult (like Germany, where you have to show proof of residency to have a local number), in which case, I stick to VoIP via WiFi. I only ever use roaming for emergencies.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Classic case

    A nice but dim friend produced an awesome "Failbook" entry. After a week in Thailand and 2 weeks in the US, she came back and posted as an update:

    "Does anyone have an IN with (local telecoms company) that might help in reducing a €1000 bill?!?"

    Comments below mainly questioned her intelligence, some did try to help, including:

    "They can't charge you that much without informing you. It's illegal if they didn't tell you you were over your normal usage. Don't pay it and challenge it."

    At which point she replied

    "Maybe that's what that text telling me to call them was all about..."

  4. gautam

    And then?

    Its universal knowledge they are hihg. WHat would you achieve by the outpourings of the sufferers and their opinions!

    Will it make any difference?

    One guess.

  5. Cthonus
    Big Brother

    O2 or O2

    I was in Krakow earlier last month so contacted O2 about the data cap and inquire about their Data Abroad 10 bolt-on for £20 which would have given me a pool of 10Mb to use in Poland before eating into the international charges.

    Non, said O2 simply.

    Customers can ask to have roaming charges capped to £40pcm or they can get the bolt-on. Not both.

    In order to get the "cheap" Data Abroad discount customers must waive their rights to have their bills capped.

    Please can we have a Money-Grabbing Swine icon?

  6. PaulK

    It will always be thus... long as they give away the handsets.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Or alternatively, until you eat your pride...

      ... and apply EU rulings.

  7. jonathanb Silver badge

    Email is something that catches a lot of people out

    Where a lot of people seem to get caught out is that their iphone / blackberry or whatever polls for new email messages on a regular basis, and this runs up data charges even if they don't actually receive any emails.

  8. Steven Jones

    Simple Solution

    Ok - it't not a solution to the high prices, but the simple solution is to makie all operators selling services in the UK put a user-definable cap on the amount that can be spent in any given period. If the amount to be billed exceeds this user defined cap then the telco would have not right to recover the excess.

    Issues of users being unexpectdly cut-off if they go over their pre-defined limit could be dealt with by messaging and warning them of the danger and providing a means for them to adjust the threshold. Of course it might well be that the mobile operators don't have the technical means to do this. However, by making them unable to recover charges over the user-defined financial limit, then that will motivate them to get a solution in place.

    Of course it would be better to see the rates dropped, but at least this approach would limit the financial shock of receiving a sudden and unexpected bill for thousands of pounds.

  9. Is it me?

    This is all well and good but

    Why are the charges so high, even e50 is a lot of money, if you haven't got it. Is it because the operators need a brake on usage outside their own networks, because they can't support unlimited bandwidths. Because they don't want everyone using Skype when they are abroad, or what, you would suspect there is a sound commercial reason, or maybe it really is the marketing people thinking they can really stick it to the users, because enough people will forget about the charges to make it worth their while, that is they make more money having insane charges than they would with sane ones. Take tethering on iPhones for example, why?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I travel to Italy quite a lot, my 3 contract used to be fantastic. It used to cost the same to use over there as it did in the UK, but the bastards stopped this last year.

    We are going backwards. With the likes of T-Mobile and Vodaphone there is no excuse for this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      t-mobile making a little progres

      Within Europe, on a UK T-Mobile phone contract, they now get you to pre-pay for a 'data roaming booster' or some such name, the first time you try to use roaming data. This is data limtied and time limited. The top one is £10 for 50MB in 30 days.

      Now, that's a really crappy price, but is a big improvement on their previous offering, and has the benfit of being capped: use your allowance, and you have to buy another booster.

  11. Ball boy Silver badge

    Solution is waiting in the wings

    Hold on: we're all tech-savvy, right? And we know how to use 't Internet? Well, why don't we form a group of companies that have offices in different locations around the world (start with EU and USA as teh most likely targets) and setup a SIM-swap? I'm in Germany next week, can I borrow your local rate card? You can have mine when you're in the UK next, etc. etc.

    As a manager, I can see the benefit of providing this for my own company (internally only at the mo.) but as I have a card and it's paid for...surely enough of us could form a band somehow? Some trust is required in case one 'forgets' and take a local card out of region - but that's what us managers get paid to resolve so it could be done with an enlightened group of companies - and I suggest that, if it got any public airtime, roaming data rates would drop like a brick almost overnight.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. Solution is waiting in the wings

      Sorry, but even a PAYG SIM remains the property of the issuing company; they'd just respond by explicitly forbidding this in the T&Cs for contract SIMs.

      A better solution will be to get a local to buy you a PAYG SIM.

      You'll have to get your mobile unlocked anyway, which will be a deterrent to most users.

      Complain to your MEP; the EU is the only body that seems willing to take action.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    What does the roaming charge cover?

    I can see why there's a roaming charge for voice calls; these are being routed over an international connection (assuming you're not calling within the country you're visiting); but what does the data roaming pay for?

    The data "call" just needs to be routed to the appropriate internet address, it doesn't require any connection back home (other than to send the billing details); so the roaming charge is just a fee for local usage and billing information.

    Industry insiders please feel free to comment...

  13. Richard Jones 1

    Odd World

    When One32One started they had a range of cost limiting services, but now there are none, I wonder why technical methods existed once upon a time, but not now?

    I always try to disable the data functions on my telephones, hello they are telephones NOT money pits for undeserving money grubbers, sorry system operators.

  14. JeffyPooh

    iPhone - Canada roaming to USA

    <- Epic

    iPhone -> Set 'Data Roaming' OFF and relax. Never, ever, never ever turn it on.

    For a trip to the 'The Land Of The Brave And Home Of The Free' (TM), my Canadian telco offered me various options that were almost as insane as roaming. For example, pay an extra $30 fee for a 10MB chunk of roaming data. WTF? Did you say 10GB? No, 10MB. 10MB? Useless. I've seen one stupid (badly designed) blog page that was about 24MB.

    Yes indeed, the worldwide shortage of bits continues... {rolls-eyes}

  15. andy 103

    Hard to monitor usage

    The problem where various people have faced huge bills has happened because until they actually received the bill, they were unaware of how much they had spent. On PAYG plans it's not such an issue because once you run out of credit, you can't rack up any more debt. But with contracts you can effectively get a bill for anything. Most operators offer online billing, but again, why would you want to access that online - especially using a mobile - if you're not sure how much it's costing?! It should be a rule that every operator has to provide free reporting on how much you owe them at any time.

  16. tony72


    Roaming in Europe with Virgin Mobile (PAYG at least, I don't know about contract), a 24 hour "travel pass" costs £6 with a 5MB limit. You can't access data or incur any charges unless you buy the pass (simply by sending a text). While that's quite expensive for a 5MB cap, it's otherwise a good system (and much better than the £5/MB it used to cost roaming in Europe), as you're flat-rate and capped, so you can't get a nasty surprise. Hopefully more companies will come around to such sensible practices.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fundamentally dishonest

    "Money grabbing swine" doesn't begin to cover it. The business model seems entirely designed to succker the unwitting roaming user. It has no redeeming features. Most roaming data charges are too high to be of practical use for most purposes (as are non-Europe voice roaming charges).

    I wouldn't want to be a shareholder in such a company. Oh wait; I am. Shit. D'you think that if i threaten to sell £500 of shares in Vodafone, the board will reconsider?

  18. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Roaming, MEH!

    Yes the EU have capped roaming charges, but now vodapain charge a "connection charge" of 79cents!!!! And if I travel outsided the EU it's "bend over and assume the position".

    knuts, the lot of 'em.

  19. Tony W

    Keep the customer in the dark

    Why don't mobiles show data usage, not just for roaming but for those without an "unlimited" contract?

    Android apparently does not even make this information available to apps, so it is not simple to get an app that checks it reliably. Vodafone informally recommend NetCounter but on my HTC Desire it is very erratic and I don't trust it to look after my cash.

  20. John Robson Silver badge

    International companies...

    They own networks across europe, so there should be zero excess charge.

  21. JeffyPooh

    'The Land Of The Brave And Home Of The Free' (TM)

    PS: I even used, for the most part, iPhone Skype (with various hotels' WiFi) for calls back home. LOL.

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