A recent survey carried out by an independent mobile network found that more than half of UK travellers don’t use their smartphone or tablet outside the UKfor fear of the extortionate roaming charges that networks apply. The research revealed that more than 50% of Brits don’t use their mobile devices abroad,while as many as 26% search for the nearest wi-fi hotspot to avoid incurring expensive data charges.
More than a quarter (26%) said they often ended up paying more than they need, because of a lack of education about how data plans work abroad, while 15% said they were often stung by extra charges because they do not understand jargon like ‘data roaming’, ‘mobile data’ and ‘3G’. The poll follows hot on the heels of the EU regulators who pushed back a decision on scrapping roaming charges for mobile phone users until 2018.
A spokesperson for the report said: “For a long time we’ve been aware of what we call the ‘silent roamers’ problem – people who basically switch off their phones. "They take it abroad for pictures, social media updates and music saved on there but their phones are switched off because they’re terrified of the bill they might get whilst they’re on holiday. “From our point of view it shouldn’t be so complicated.” “With millions of Brits travelling abroad every month, there should be more choice to help them keep in touch with loved ones at home.” Part of the problem is that smartphones are often “too smart”, they added. “You think you’re not using it, but because of all these apps that you’ve downloaded in the background they’re either getting updates, syncing data and using data without you actually knowing it."
With the advent of alternative services, including buying your own international data SIM card, then the risk of running up a huge bill can be easily avoided.