Barbara Keeley MP

LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WORSLEY AND ECCLES SOUTH

Advice from Ofcom on using your mobile abroad

newsOfcom have set out ten tips for keeping down the cost of using mobile phones and downloading data whilst travelling abroad as the summer holiday season starts.

With take-up of internet use on the move surging, they warn that travellers using devices such as the increasingly-popular wireless broadband “dongle” could be in for a costly shock due to the expense of downloading when overseas.

In January 2008, Ofcom urged industry to take the initiative to reduce the cost of sending texts and downloading data whilst abroad, warning that if this did not happen further regulatory action at a European level may be needed. A number of operators have since reduced their charges. However, Ofcom encourages mobile operators to continue to address this issue in the consumer’s interest.

Ten tips to keep mobile bills down whilst abroad:

1. Enable your mobile phone: Check with your mobile provider that your phone has been enabled to use abroad. Operators are obliged to provide this information to customers.

2. Check your handset: Check with your mobile provider that your handset will work in the country you are travelling to.

3. Check the prices before you leave: Contact your mobile provider to check your tariff before you travel to help avoid unexpectedly high bills.

4. Ensure you are getting the best deal: Check international packages offered by operators before you travel to ensure you are getting the best deal.

5. The pan European tariff only applies to voice calls: Remember that the pan European tariff (Eurotariff) which has helped to reduce the cost of calls, only applies to voice calls, not to texting and data downloads. It is available from all operators, across most European countries but is not available in Switzerland, Turkey or Croatia.

6. Check your bundles: Don’t assume that the price of calls made abroad are included in your bundled package.

7. Don’t forget voicemail: Remember that calling your voicemail from abroad can cost the same as making a call to the UK – check with your provider if in doubt. Unlike at home, you may be charged every time someone leaves a message on your voicemail . I f you want to avoid these charges, you can switch off your voicemail before you leave the UK.

8. Using mobile internet abroad: Be aware that when connecting to the internet via a mobile handset, dongle or data card (a portable modem which provides internet access via the 3G network) whilst abroad could cost significantly more than when using them at home.

9. The local SIM option: If you are out of the country for a long period time, it could be cheaper to buy a local SIM card that can be used in your handset or a local dongle.

10. Alert your operator immediately if your phone is lost or stolen: If your phone is lost or stolen when you are abroad remember that you could be liable for the cost of the calls made in that country. Make a note of the contact details of your operator before you travel to ensure that you can get in touch with them as soon as possible to report the loss.

For further information see the Ofcom webiste www.ofcom.org.uk

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