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Mobile Operators Report Big Surge in Internet Data Use Since Free EU Roaming

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 (4:08 pm) - Score 1,467

The European Union’s move in June 2017 to scrap roaming charges for mobile calls, texts and data / internet services (here) has resulted in operators’ reporting a huge rise in data traffic due to travellers, which has multiplied by between 3-6 times this summer compared with last year.

Some of the increase in data traffic reflects the natural year-on-year trend in ever rising consumption, although a new update from the European Commission (EC) confirms that “a substantial part can be attributed to the new roaming rules.”

The EC also conducted a study of citizens in each of the EU’s member states during late August 2017, which found that 71% are aware roaming charges ended on 15th June 2017 (falls to 63% in the UK) and this rises to 86% amongst those who have travelled since 15th June.

Survey Highlights

* The share of travellers who used their mobile data while roaming as often as at home doubled among those who had travelled after 15 June 2017 (31%) compared to the ones who had travelled during the months before (15%);

* The share of travellers who never used mobile data abroad halved after 15 June 2017 (21%) compared to the months preceding that date (42%);

* In general, restrictive mobile use abroad is diminishing with less travellers switching off their phones (12%) as compared to before 15 June (20%);

* However, compared to mobile phone use in their home country, 60% of travellers still restricted their mobile phone use when travelling in another EU country since 15 June 2017.

It’s worth reminding readers that free roaming (“Roam Like At Home“) means that anybody choosing to use their Mobile (SIM) to make calls, text or use data while roaming around the EU should be able to do so for the same price as they pay their UK operator (i.e. no extra roaming charges), although there are some caveats for data usage above a certain level.

However the implementation has not been perfect and some operators did appear to impose restrictions on Mobile Broadband use (here).

Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, said:

“We see that people are keen to use their phones like at home when travelling in the EU without the fear of a bill-shock. And mobile operators are investing in networks to meet increased demand. Our new EU telecoms rules will encourage such investments; they should be adopted by the European Parliament and Member States as soon as possible.”

A copy of the surveys’ findings, which includes individual studies from each member state including the United Kingdom, can be found here.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Brett Baker says:

    When I used my phone abroad whilst away in July it was so slow and I couldn’t really use it.

    1. Bill says:

      I have the opposite experience, I found UMTS and 4G speeds to be superior to what I am used to in the UK, in both France and Spain.

      But I suspect it depends on where you live in the UK and where you go abroad!

  2. Mike says:

    Probably better to get a foreign data sim off ebay before you go and use a MiFi device or spare phone for hotspot.

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