On June 15, Britons holidaying in Europe will cease to pay roaming costs when they use their mobile phone thanks to new EU legislation ‘Roam like Home’. Under the new rules, EU citizens can take their mobile plan on holiday, putting an end to expensive bills. But according to research* by Graystone Strategy, a specialist in mobile services and customer trends, 67% of Brits are unaware of their new entitlement.
At the moment, 61% of people are worried about using their phone on holiday for fear of getting a hefty bill when they get home, and a fifth of people never use their phone abroad to avoid bill shock completely. However, once participants in the study were told about the new law, 63% said they would use their phone more, with half (49%) saying they would use more internet services. A further 43% added they would now use streaming services like Netflix and Spotify for at least 30 minutes a day.
Anna Parcell, head of propositions and insight at Graystone Strategy, is urging consumers not to miss out: “Roam like Home is big news for British holidaymakers, who stand to save £1.3bn** annually. However, the message hasn’t landed. With a fortnight until the new rules come into force most people have no idea they can use their mobile on the beach worry-free.”
Anna says operators are implementing Roam like Home in very different ways, “Every operator has an obligation to follow the legislation but not all operators are simply switching off the billing. Some operators have made small but significant price changes to plans recently. Others have launched new roaming offers which include even more countries, but there are often conditions to these new plans depending on whether you pay monthly or like to pay as you go.
”Though the increases won’t entirely compensate for the money operators will lose, it will make a difference to your annual bill, especially if you have no interest in going to the countries outside of the EU or don’t want to use your phone on holiday. It’s therefore a good time to check how your plan stacks up and switch if there’s a better deal out there.”
Anna believes operators will need to change how they design plans in the future: “It’s a really challenging time for operators as no-one can truly predict how consumer behaviour will change. But the research suggests that once those wedded to the internet know they can roam like home they’ll go full throttle sharing holiday snaps and browsing the net.
“That poses an expensive problem for those mobile companies with a high number of more internet-dependent customers – those we call ‘Technology Trailblazers’. If they start to gobble up the 10GB of data a week as the research suggests, then we’ll see operators like O2, Three, EE and GiffGaff change pricing to claw back some of the revenue.
“Operators who attract a very different kind of customer such as Asda and Tesco are less likely to see such a significant upsurge in data use because more of their customers fall into the segments that use very little data day to day and even actively avoid using their mobile when on holiday. Their price plans are less likely to change,” adds Anna.
“I expect all the operators will be looking for trends this summer, watching to see if the customers they think will use more data actually do, and to what extent. Of course, those operators that see exponentially more use will need to respond quickly in order to stay competitive and protect their profits, and those that manage the change most successfully will be the ones that design plans that reflect the different types of use, rather than create plans that work for the few not the many,” concludes Anna.
Top tips for using your phone abroad and keeping within your allowances:
• Use a secure wifi connection wherever you can. Airports, hotels and bars often provide it free of charge
• If you are watching movies then avoid high definition (HD) as it will treble your data use
• Adjust the settings in your social media or news apps so they only download new posts and latest updates when you open up the app
• Switch off ‘auto-play’ for video posts in apps like Facebook. It will help conserve your allowance
• If you will definitely use more data then read the small print, especially if your plan has recently changed
• Think about where you will travel. If you’ll only travel within the EU then don’t pay for extra destinations that you won’t use
• Shop around for the best deal before you go and consider the difference it makes to have a contract or pay as you go
In total, 439*** million mobile phone users across the EU will benefit from June 15th.