Brits being ripped off for data roaming

The outrageous cost of data roaming within the UK was highlighted today by 3 UK’s CEO, Kevin Russell. On average, 3 calculates that users pay around 400 times as much for a data connexion while roaming compared to the UK.

The exact figures are that users get 5GB of data throughput for £15 in Blighty but that same 5GB costs £6,250 in EU. Russell’s aim is to make this a “consumer issues”, rather than hoping the mobile industry will act to cure this.

Russell also hinted that he believes the body to correct this injustice lies in Brussels rather than in London. Growing ownership of smartphones – such as the iPhone – will highlight the problem in 2010, he believes.

Of course, 3 UK can’t actually offer the iPhone to its subscribers at present (see Techeye passim). However, Russell did hint – once again – that he would ‘range’ that handset if the price was right.

He described bidding to become Apple’s partner in the UK for the infamous iPad as akin to paying top whack for a striker in the UK premier soccer league.

Significantly, 3 UK’s CTO, Graham Baxter, revealed that his company has by no means ruled out offering HSPA+ to its customers. This would provide higher data speeds that the current top speed of 7.2 Mbit/s.

He described HSPA+ as “very challenging and easier to do with more spectrum. But it’s the smart way to go and definitely something we are looking at!”

Incidentally, Baxter calculates that a consumer gets a maximum output of 5.6 Mbit/s from a theoretical 7.2 Mbit/s network and a max of 2.8 Mbit/s from a 3.6 Mbit/s dongle.

However, Baxter was completely unenthusiastic about offering femtocells to 3’s customers. He argued that while a femtocell helps a 3G dongle or handset get a connexion, it actually requires a fixed broadband link.

3’s mission is to compete against fixed broadband, rather than piggyback on it.