Three roaming becomes cheaper as operator adds USA to ‘Feel At Home’ service
Three customers will be able to call and text the UK and use their data allowance in the US at no extra charge as the country has been added to the operator’s ‘Feel At Home’ service.
Indonesia, Macau and Singapore, all of which are home to networks owned by Three’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa, have also been added to the list, while an agreement with AT&T and T-Mobile means the US is the first non-Hutchison country to be included.
Three CEO Dave Dyson says operators have been “missing a trick” by charging high roaming rates as business travellers have been electing to choose Wi-Fi rather than use their phones.
He claims that since Feel At Home was introduced in August in Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Republic of Ireland or Sweden, data usage in the seven countries has increased by 1000 percent and voice traffic has risen by 400 percent.
The offer applies to any pay monthly, SIM only, pay as you go, mobile broadband or business tariff, but only applies to texts and calls to the UK, with calls to local numbers charged at normal roaming rates.
However should the European Commission (EC) proposals to eliminate roaming charges be adopted, Three would have no option but to eliminate charges entirely in all EU member states, eliminating the potential benefits of Feel At Home in Europe.
Feel at home, sort of
Dyson says that Three is “pretty aligned” with the EC, and the reason it hs not delivred any reduction inlocal calls and texts while abroad is because it wants to reduce confusion among customers by making them use their phone as though they were in the UK.
However he adds that Three is working to cut cross-border charges by reducing its wholesale costs and is looking to add as many countries as possible to Feel At Home, with France and Spain key targets.
Three is currently in the process of rolling out 4G to its customers in four UK cities with a view to expanding coverage to 50 locations by the end of 2014, and will not charge a premium for the service.
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