O2 ramps up roaming charges for outside EU

After being forced to cut rates for users in Europe, the mobile operator increases roaming charges for outside the EU

O2 has announced price increases to its roaming rates outside the European Union, with some call rates increasing by more than double.

The new pricing will come into force from 28 November, with call making and receiving costs going up up, as well as the price of a text.

The highest hikes will hit what O2 calls Zone 3 countries, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Making a call will rise from 81p per minute currently to £1.50, whilst receiving a call will rocket from 52p to £1.25.

Rates in the USA and Canada will also go up significantly, from 90p to £1.10 for making a call and from 39p to 90p for receiving, whilst countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, will see costs go from 60p to 80p for making and 43p to 80p for receiving a call.

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Countries not covered by these areas or Europe will be hit with an upsurge from £1.20 for making a call to £1.50p and from 85p for receiving a call to £1.25.

Texting will increase to become a 40p flat rate across all regions, having the biggest effect on the US and Canada roamers – an increase of 15p from current prices.

The only thing that will remain the same is the data roaming rate, which sits at £6 per MB, with a cap of 50MB or £40.

A spokesman from the company said O2 hadn’t raised these roaming charges in over five years and said “we’ve ensured they remain competitive,” as the figures were less than T-Mobile and less than Vodafone “in all but 3 destinations.” However, Vodafone’s text charges remained at 35p and Orange’s rates were significantly lower.

The reaction from customers has been fierce, with one Computer Weekly reader tweeting: “I'm fuming about that AND them doing away with the cheaper text bundles for those of us who frequently text the US.”

In May this year, the EU ruled that mobile companies needed to reduce their roaming rates so European citizens could use their phones abroad without fears of massive bills when they got home.

The legislation came into force on 1 July and saw caps of 29 cents for making a call – with the price dropping further to 20 cents by 2014 – and the maximum price for a text falling from 11 cents to 9 cents by 2013, bottoming out at 6 cents by 2014.

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