Three Customers ‘Save’ £1.3bn In Roaming Costs

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Three claims customers are using more data than ever before since Feel At Home launched 2 years ago

Three says its customers have saved £1.3 billion in roaming costs since it abolished additional charges for calls and texts to UK numbers and mobile data in some countries two years ago as part of its ‘Feel At Home’ service.

Two million Three users have signed up for Feel At Home, saving an average of £330 each. The average user consumes 500MB of data on each trip abroad, an 84 percent year-on-year increase.

Feel At Home launched in August 2013 in 7 countries and has since expanded to 18 nations, agreeing deals with other mobile operators, many of which are also owned by Three’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa.

Roaming charges

mobile phone roaming charge europe SIM card © anaken2012 ShutterstockThese are Spain, France, Switzerland, Israel, Finland, Norway, USA, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark and Republic of Ireland.

The operator is working on adding more countries to the service, with Germany mentioned as a possibility, but has warned some nations were out of reach because of prohibitive wholesale charges which makes launching a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in some countries a cheaper option.

Roaming is set to be abolished across the European Union (EU) from 2017, with European mobile users paying the same for calls, texts and data as they would in their home country, with “fair use” limits introduced to prevent citizens from abusing the system by purchasing SIM cards with cheaper tariffs from abroad. These ‘fair use’ limits are still to be determined by the EU.

The EU says consumers will benefit from cheaper roaming, while operators will be able to take advantage of increased demand. It adds that the new regulations pave the way for innovations like connected cars and other new types of mobile application that are no longer subject to national borders.

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