Travellers switch off to avoid roaming charges

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Internet News

Travellers switching off

A survey has found that many travellers will severely limit or even completely stop their mobile usage while abroad, for fear of excessive roaming charges.

The poll of 28,000 EU citizens, carried out by the European Commission, shows 28 per cent of all respondents will turn off their mobile phone for the duration of their trip. In the UK, that figure rises to 37 per cent.

Across the EU, 47 per cent claimed they would "never" use mobile internet when travelling, while a huge 94 per cent said they would "limit" their usage. Only one in ten said they would check their emails as frequently as they do at home, and one in twenty would use social media as frequently.

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President, commented:

"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."

Roam free

The EC is currently campaigning to abolish roaming charges by 2016, enabling travellers to enjoy the same rates as they do in their home country. Operators EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone signed an agreement with the British Government in December 2013 pledging support for the decision. The European Parliament is due to vote on the matter next week.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, said: "Everyone has heard horror stories of huge phone bills after a holiday, so it's no surprise so many people are playing it safe. If the fear of roaming charges was eliminated, it could have a huge impact on mobile usage, and therefore on websites and advertisers - it's easy to imagine increased use of travel-related websites and apps, not to mention social media as people document their holidays."