Nearly half of European tourists say they would never use mobile internet in another EU country and over a quarter turn off their mobiles altogether over fears of monstrous phone bills when they get home.
The European Commission, which is trying to get roaming charges abolished, surveyed 28,000 EU citizens and reckon that telecoms firms are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of the current roaming arrangements.
“I am honestly shocked by these figures," said EC veep and unelected digital czar Neelie Kroes. "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.”
The EC said it was concerned that roaming charges were affecting the app market, particularly travel guide and map apps. It also found that 70 per cent of people were limiting their calls to other EU countries, even when they were at home.
The commission's research backs up its mission to get all roaming charges abolished by 2016 at the latest. The European authority has already introduced price caps to push down the price of making calls and accessing the internet abroad. It wants to use a combination of rules and market incentives to get operators offering phone plans and bundles that will work anywhere in the EU at the same price. ®