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Ofcom proposes new guidelines to curb Cellular roaming costs

Cellular networks should inform folks if they’re going to be charged for utilizing their telephone overseas underneath new plans from the UK regulator.

Ofcom desires folks to be alerted about potential charges for roaming – utilizing minutes, texts or knowledge exterior the UK.

It says one in 5 folks at present don’t realise they face such charges when travelling.

Underneath the plans, prospects should even be advised about any motion they’ll take to restrict roaming-related costs.

Shopper teams say they’re at present costing British telephone customers greater than half a billion kilos a yr.

Ofcom says some cellular networks are charging folks roughly £2 a day to make use of their telephone overseas.

It says it is going to decide on the brand new guidelines in 2024, and can give cellular suppliers six months to implement them.

The European Union (EU) banned roaming costs in 2017 and – regardless that the UK had voted to depart the yr earlier than – the scheme nonetheless utilized to British folks travelling to the EU whereas the phrases of the UK’s departure had been negotiated.

When a Brexit deal was lastly struck, it didn’t embrace an extension on the ban on roaming costs within the EU for British cell phone customers, which means UK operators had been allowed to reintroduce them from January 2021.

The UK additionally selected to not introduce legal guidelines requiring firms to inform prospects if they might be charged for roaming.

In consequence, Three, EE and Vodafone all reintroduced roaming charges for patrons travelling to the EU in 2022, whereas O2 says prospects can use as much as 25GB of information in a month earlier than being charged.

‘Extremely costly’

Uswitch mobiles professional Ernest Doku stated the comparability web site “strongly helps Ofcom’s proposal”.

“There are just about no regulatory protections left for shoppers once they use their telephones overseas for calls, texts or knowledge utilization,” he stated.

“Roaming prices can now be extremely costly, and shoppers have been left uncovered at a time when a big surprising invoice might have extreme penalties.

“Our analysis reveals {that a} staggering £539m of surprising roaming costs hit UK shoppers previously yr alone.”

Ofcom additionally desires firms to inform folks once they may fall foul of so-called “inadvertent roaming” – when a buyer utilizing their telephone within the UK connects to a cellular community from a special nation.

Although that is unusual for many in mainland UK, these in Northern Eire – notably on the border – can connect with networks within the Republic of Eire, whereas some on the south coast may sometimes connect with a community in France.

Analysis from the Shopper Council for Northern Eire discovered 22% of consumers within the nation skilled inadvertent roaming.

Ofcom has proposed the introduction of particular tariffs, and even forcing networks to “deal with cellular utilization in Eire the identical as being within the UK”. It stated some networks at present do that.

“These alerts would imply whichever cellular supplier you’re with, you received’t be left at midnight about roaming costs and motion you’ll be able to take to handle your spending,” stated Cristina Luna-Esteban, Ofcom director of telecoms client safety.