European visitors 'limit mobile use' to avoid charges

More than three quarters of European visitors (94 percent) limit the use of their mobile internet to avoid roaming charges when travelling in EU, European Commission surmises

More than three quarters of European visitors (94 percent) limit the use of their mobile internet to avoid roaming charges when travelling in EU, European Commission surmises

ANKARA - 94 percent of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of services like Facebook, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens by the European Commission on Monday.

The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies.

47 percent of respondents said that they would never use mobile internet while travelling in the EU and more than 25 percent simply switch off their mobiles.

Frequent travellers – the most lucrative section of the potential market - are more likely to switch-off their mobile phone data roaming capabilities than occasional travellers. The Commission believes this is because frequent travellers are better informed about the real costs of data roaming in Europe than less frequent travellers.

Only 1 out of 10 would use e-mails in the same way as at home and only 1 out of 20 would use social media in the same way as at home.

European Commission Vice President, Neelie Kroes said: “I am honestly shocked by these figures. It shows we have to finish the job and eliminate roaming charges. Consumers are limiting their phone use in extreme ways and this makes no sense for the companies either.”

"It’s not just a fight between holiday-makers and telecoms companies. 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 – it’s economic madness,” Kroes asserted.

The European Commission says that barriers like roaming charges put a brake on parts of this new sector, travel guides, photo and map apps are particularly negatively affected.

The survey shows that consumers are not just limiting their mobile use when abroad. At home, 70 percent of people who call other EU countries limit these calls for cost reasons.

The European Commission said it hoped to put regulatory obligations and market incentives to induce mobile operators to extend their domestic plans by 2016 in order that customers throughout the Union are able to use their phones and smartphones at domestic rates while travelling throughout the Union ("roam like at home").

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