Members of the House of Lords have demanded that extortionate EU data roaming fees are tackled with a “better deal” for service users.
A Lords Committee has today written to Communications Minister Ed Vaizey to outline proposals to lower bills for those stung by mobile charges abroad.
The Committee said that the current charging structure is “unacceptably high”, which makes smartphone users think twice about using their phone lest they get a bill for more than the cost of the handset and the holiday combined.
The move comes in the wake of the EU’s own directive on the bank-account draining problem, while Ofcom called for worldwide caps to stop Brits abroad from getting stung should they venture further than Magaluf this summer. Even carrier Three spoke out against the eye-watering charges made to customers.
While the likes of Vodafone are already targeting phone users with cheaper data deals when abroad, many are subject to fees of £3 for a measly megabyte of data when in sunnier climes.
The Lords committee also twigged that this is clearly bad for business. No one in their right mind would use a smartphone for services such as maps, or say finding a local restaurant, when abroad because of the cost, despite smartphones clearly coming into their own in such circumstances.
Unfortunately, the committee chair Baroness O’Cathain admits that industry players are unlikely to do so willingly, despite shooting themselves in the foot over the potential revenues in making services more accessible.
Should the cost be lower then surely it wouldn’t just be those forgetting to turn off data roaming after landing that would make use of such services regularly. With this in mind, caps are demanded which benefit both phone users and companies.
The proposals, written up after hearing evidence from consumer groups and phone companies, indicate that price caps “are a means, not the end, to a truly competitive marketplace”.
Further proposals demand that more is done to inform customers of any changes, and to keep phone users at the “heart of all developments”.