Mobile

Three ditches data roaming charges in five more countries

Alex Scroxton

Mobile network operator Three has expanded the number of countries included in its Feel At Home service, which allows British users of its network to call and text UK numbers and use mobile data abroad under the terms of their existing contracts.

Feel At Home has been available in a number of markets where its parent, Hutchison Whampoa, has a presence – Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Macau, Sri Lanka and the US, since last year.

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It has now added Finland, France, Israel, Norway and Switzerland to the list.

Three said the expansion of its service to more popular European travel destinations – France, in particular, receives upward of 17 million British visitors a year – was an important step that showed its determination to kill off roaming charges for good.

Three chief executive Dave Dyson said: “Roaming charges are a rip-off and Three is tackling the issue head-on. I want customers to stay connected when they’re overseas without the fear of a nasty bill when they return.”

The service will be available on pay-monthly, pay-as-you-go, SIM-only and mobile broadband plans, although calls to foreign numbers will be charged at standard roaming rates.

The EU voted to force mobile operators to scrap roaming charges in April, noting a European Commission report that said networks could be missing out on revenues from 300 million travellers within the EU.

EC vice-president Neelie Kroes, an enthusiastic backer of the plan, said: “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.”

The EC survey found 47% of respondents said they never used their mobiles in another EU country, and 33% of regular travellers switched off mobile data completely when moving around Europe.

In the UK, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport signed an agreement late last year with, EE, Three, T-Mobile and Vodafone – O2 refused to take part – to scrap mobile roaming charges by 2016.

As yet, Three has been the only operator to jump voluntarily.


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